Public Release:  University of Toronto researchers create world's most efficient flexible OLED on plastic

Plastic solution enables a flexible form factor and a less costly alternative to traditional OLED manufacturing

University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

TORONTO, ON - Engineering researchers at the University of Toronto have developed the world's most efficient organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) on plastic. This result enables a flexible form factor, not to mention a less costly, alternative to traditional OLED manufacturing, which currently relies on rigid glass.

The results are reported online in the latest issue of Nature Photonics.

OLEDs provide high-contrast and low-energy displays that are rapidly becoming the dominant technology for advanced electronic screens. They are already used in some cell phone and other smaller-scale applications.

Current state-of-the-art OLEDs are produced using heavy-metal doped glass in order to achieve high efficiency and brightness, which makes them expensive to manufacture, heavy, rigid and fragile.

"For years, the biggest excitement behind OLED technologies has been the potential to effectively produce them on flexible plastic," says Materials Science & Engineering Professor Zheng-Hong Lu, the Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in Organic Optoelectronics.

Using plastic can substantially reduce the cost of production, while providing designers with a more durable and flexible material to use in their products.

The research, which was supervised by Professor Lu and led by PhD Candidates Zhibin Wang and Michael G. Helander, demonstrated the first high-efficiency OLED on plastic. The performance of their device is comparable with the best glass-based OLEDs, while providing the benefits offered by using plastic.

"This discovery, unlocks the full potential of OLEDs, leading the way to energy-efficient, flexible and impact-resistant displays," says Professor Lu.

Wang and Helander were able to re-construct the high-refractive index property previously limited to heavy metal-doped glass by using a 50-100 nanometre thick layer of tantalum(V) oxide (Ta2O5), an advanced optical thin-film coating material. This advanced coating technique, when applied on flexible plastic, allowed the team to build the highest-efficiency OLED device ever reported with a glass-free design.

###

The results of Wang and Helander's work titled "Unlocking the Full Potential of Organic Light-Emitting Diodes on Flexible Plastic" are published online in the journal Nature Photonics (Nature Photonics DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2011.259). The full paper is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2011.259.

A video interview with Michael G. Helander discussing this research is available at http://vimeo.com/uoftengineering/oled

Please contact Luke Y. H. Ng for images associated with this research discovery.

For more information, please contact:
Luke Y. H. Ng
External Relations & Student Life Officer
Department of Materials Science & Engineering
Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, University of Toronto
Telephone: 416-946-3211
Email: lukeyh.ng@utoronto.ca
Web: www.mse.utoronto.ca

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.