Salt-Doped Polymer Light-Emitting Devices
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Polymer Light-Emitting Electrochemical Cells (PLECs) are solid state devices based on the in situ electrochemical doping of the luminescent polymer and the formation of a p-n junction where light is emitted upon the application of a bias current or voltage. PLECs answer the drawbacks of polymer light-emitting diodes as they do not require an ultra-thin active layer nor are they reliant on low work function cathode materials that are air unstable. However, because of the dynamic nature of the doping, they suffer from slow response times and poor stability over time. Frozen-junction PLECs offer a solution to these drawbacks, yet they are impractical due to their sub-ambient operation temperature requirement. Our work presented henceforth aims to achieve room temperature frozen-junction PLECS. In order to do that we removed the ion solvating/transporting polymer from the active layer, resulting in a luminescent polymer combined solely with a salt sandwiched between an ITO electrode and an aluminum electrode. The resulting device was not expected to operate like a PLEC due to the absence of an ion-solvating and ion-transporting medium. However, we discovered that the polymer/salt devices could be activated by applying a large voltage bias, resulting in much higher current and luminance. More important, the activated state is quasi static. Devices based on the well-known orange-emitting polymer MEH-PPV displayed a luminance storage half-life of 150 hours when activated by forward bias (ITO biased positively with respect to the aluminum) and 200 hours when activated by reverse bias. More remarkable yet, devices based on a green co-polymer displayed no notable decay in current density or luminance even after being stored for 1200 hours at room temperature! PL imaging under UV excitation demonstrates the presence of doping. These devices are described herein along with an explanation of their operating mechanisms.