Diazirine-based photo-crosslinkers for defect free fabrication of solution processed organic light-emitting diodes

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Dey, Kaustav
Chowdhury, S. Roy
Dykstra, Erik
Koronatov, Aleksandr
Lu, H. Peter
Shinar, Ruth
Shinar, Joseph
Anzenbacher, Pavel
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Ames National Laboratory

Ames National Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), operated by and located on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

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The fabrication of solution deposited OLEDs is fraught with difficulties, largely due to the interlayer mixing and surface erosion during sequential deposition of the layers. We demonstrate that these problems can be circumvented by using photopolymerizable diazirine-based cross-linker capable of converting soluble organic materials into highly cross-linked insoluble networks. 3-Trifluoromethyl(aryl)diazirines photolyze readily upon the 10–15 min exposure of 365 nm UV irradiation to generate carbenes, which react with polymers or small molecules via C–H bond insertion producing highly cross-linked materials. This photo-generated cross-linking does not require any catalyst, initiator or short-wavelength UV light and is performed at room temperature, releasing molecular nitrogen as the only byproduct. To show the cross-linked polymer layers do not display inter-layer mixing, we deposited red-emitting regioregular poly(3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl) (P3HT) over cross-linked (10% cross-linker) blue emitting dioctyl polyfluorene (PFO) layer. The overlaid layers showed clear and well-defined boundary with no interlayer mixing. The surface morphology of the solution deposited layers was investigated by AFM to show that the cross-linked layers exhibited significant decrease in surface roughness. This is also shown on the example of the hole transporting material 4,4′-bis[N-(1-naphthyl)-N-phenylamino]-biphenyl (NPB) which displayed roughness average to decrease from 6.4 nm to 1.0 nm. The effect of decreased surface roughness on the performance of phosphorescent OLEDs was investigated by fabricating devices with configuration of ITO/PEDOT:PSS/NPB:(0%/5%/10%) cross-linker/MCP:6% Ir(mppy)3/TPBI/CsF/Al. Following the diazirine-mediated cross-linking, the OLEDs displayed a decrease in turn-on voltage from 3.8 V to 3.0 V along with a six-fold enhancement of external quantum efficiency (EQEmax) from 1.1% to 6.8% and maximum luminous efficiency increase from 3.8 cd A−1 to 22.9 cd A−1. These results demonstrate that the simple diazirine mediated photo-cross-linking using mild conditions compatible with organic layers is a promising strategy for improving the performance of the solution-processed OLEDs.

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