Degradation Mechanisms in Small-Molecule and Polymer Organic Light-Emitting Diodes



Degradation in organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) is a complex problem. Depending upon the materials and the device architectures used, the degradation mechanism can be very different. In this Progress Report, using examples in both small molecule and polymer OLEDs, the different degradation mechanisms in two types of devices are examined. Some of the extrinsic and intrinsic degradation mechanisms in OLEDs are reviewed, and recent work on degradation studies of both small-molecule and polymer OLEDs is presented. For small-molecule OLEDs, the operational degradation of exemplary fluorescent devices is dominated by chemical transformations in the vicinity of the recombination zone. The accumulation of degradation products results in coupled phenomena of luminance-efficiency loss and operating-voltage rise. For polymer OLEDs, it is shown how the charge-transport and injection properties affect the device lifetime. Further, it is shown how the charge balance is controlled by interlayers at the anode contact, and their effects on the device lifetime are discussed.