New polymer matrix system for phosphorescent organic light-emitting diodes and the role of the small molecular co-host



A new matrix system for phosphorescent organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) based on an electron transporting component attached to an inert polymer backbone, an electronically neutral co-host, and a phosphorescent dye that serves as both emitter and hole conductor are presented. The inert co-host is used either as small molecules or covalently connected to the same chain as the electron-transporting host. The use of a small molecular inert co-host in the active layer is shown to be highly advantageous in comparison to a purely polymeric matrix bearing the same functionalities. Analysis of the dye phosphorescence decay in pure polymer, small molecular co-host film, and their blend lets to conclude that dye molecules distribute mostly in the small molecular co-host phase, where the co-host prevents agglomeration and self-quenching of the phosphorescence as well as energy transfer to the electron transporting units. In addition, the co-host accumulates at the anode interface where it acts as electron blocking layer and improves hole injection. This favorable phase separation between polymeric and small molecular components results in devices with efficiencies of about 47 cd/A at a luminance of 1000 cd/m2. Investigation of OLED degradation demonstrates the presence of two time regimes: one fast component that leads to a strong decrease at short times followed by a slower decrease at longer times. Unlike the long time degradation, the efficiency loss that occurs at short times is reversible and can be recovered by annealing of the device at 180 °C. We also show that the long-time degradation must be related to a change of the optical and electrical bulk properties. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem, 2013