New Zn(II)-chelated complexes based on benzothiazole derivatives, including substituted functional groups such as methyl (MeZn), methoxy (MeOZn), or fluorenyl unit (FuZn), are investigated to produce white-light emission. 2-(2-Hydroxyphenyl)benzothiazole derivatives in toluene and DMSO exhibit excited-state intramolecular proton transfer (ESIPT), leading to a large Stokes shift of the fluorescence emission. However, in methanol they exhibit no ESIPT due to the intermolecular hydrogen bonding between the 2-(2-hydroxyphenyl)benzothiazole derivative and methanol. Their Zn(II)-chelated complexes exhibit the absorption band red-shifted at 500 nm in nonpolar solvent and the absorption band blue-shifted at about 420 nm in protic solvent. In multilayer electroluminescent devices, methyl-substituted Zn(II)-chelated complex (MeZn) exhibits excellent power efficiency and fluorene-substituted Zn(II)-chelated complex (FuZn) has a high luminance efficiency (1 cd m−2 at 3.5 V, 10 400 cd m−2 at 14 V). The EL spectra of Zn(II)-chelated complexes based on benzothiazole derivatives exhibit broad emission bands. In addition, their electron-transport property for red–green–blue (RGB) organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) is systematically studied, in comparison with that of Alq3. The results demonstrate the promising potential of MeZn as an electron-transporting layer (ETL) material in preference to Alq3, which is widely used as an ETL material.
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