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Keywords:

  • Electron injection;
  • Metal oxides;
  • Organic light-emitting diodes

Abstract

A new type of bottom-emission electroluminescent device is described in which a metal oxide is used as the electron-injecting contact. The preparation of such a device is simple. It consists of the deposition of a thin layer of a metal oxide on top of an indium tin oxide covered glass substrate, followed by the solution processing of the light-emitting layer and subsequently the deposition of a high-workfunction (air-stable) metal anode. This architecture allows for a low-cost electroluminescent device because no rigorous encapsulation is required. Electroluminescence with a high brightness reaching 5700 cd m–2 is observed at voltages as low as 8 V, demonstrating the potential of this new approach to organic light-emitting diode (OLED) devices. Unfortunately the device efficiency is rather low because of the high current density flowing through the device. We show that the device only operates after the insertion of an additional hole-injection layer in between the light-emitting polymer (LEP) and the metal anode. A simple model that explains the experimental results and provides avenues for further optimization of these devices is described. It is based on the idea that the barrier for electron injection is lowered by the formation of a space–charge field over the metal-oxide–LEP interface due to the build up of holes in the LEP layer close to this interface.