By inserting platinum atoms into an organic semiconductor, University of Utah physicists were able to “tune” the plastic-like polymer to emit light of different colors – a step toward more efficient, less expensive and truly white organic LEDs for light bulbs of the future.

In the new study, Vardeny and colleagues report how they inserted platinum metal atoms at different intervals along a chain-like organic polymer, and thus were able to adjust or tune the colors emitted. That is a step toward a truly white OLED generated by multiple colors from a single polymer.

Existing white OLED displays – like those in recent cell phones – use different organic polymers that emit different colors, which are arranged in pixels of red, green and blue and then combined to make white light, says Vardeny, a distinguished professor of physics. “This new polymer has all those colors simultaneously, so no need for small pixels and complicated engineering to create them.”

“This polymer emits light in the blue and red spectral range, and can be tuned to cover the whole visible spectrum,” he adds. “As such, it can serve as the active [or working] layer in white OLEDs that are predicted to replace regular light bulbs.”

Vardeny says the new polymer also could be used in a new type of solar power cell in which the platinum would help the polymer convert sunlight to electricity more efficiently. And because the platinum-rich polymer would allow physicists to “read” the information stored in electrons’ “spins” or intrinsic angular momentum, the new polymers also have potential uses for computer memory.

In the new study, the researchers made the new platinum-rich polymers and then used various optical methods to characterize their properties and show how they light up when stimulated by light.

The polymers in the new study aren’t quite OLEDs because they emit light when stimulated by other light. An OLED is a polymer that emits light when stimulated by electrical current.

Vardeny predicts about one year until design of a “platinum-rich pi-conjugated polymer” that is tuned to emit white light when stimulated by light, and about two years until development of true white organic LEDs.

This story is reprinted from material from
The University of Utah, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.