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Physicists create polymer with tunable colours for white OLED

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:white OLED? platinum metal? polymer?

A team of physicists at the University of Utah has reported how they inserted platinum atoms into an organic semiconductor to "tune" the plastic-like polymer to emit light of different colours. According to them, the findings would light the path towards more efficient, less expensive and truly white organic LEDs for light bulbs.

"These new, platinum-rich polymers hold promise for white organic light-emitting diodes and new kinds of more efficient solar cells," noted University of Utah physicist Z. Valy Vardeny, who led the study.

Certain existing white light bulbs use LEDs and some phone displays use organic LEDs, or OLEDs. Neither are truly white LEDs, but instead use LEDs made of different materials that each emit a different colour, then combine or convert those colours to create white light, Vardeny stated.

In the study, Vardeny and colleagues reported how they inserted platinum metal atoms at different intervals along a chain-like organic polymer, and thus were able to adjust or tune the colours emitted. That is a step towards a truly white OLED generated by multiple colours from a single polymer.

Existing white OLED displays such as those in recent cell phones use different organic polymers that emit different colours, which are arranged in pixels of red, green and blue and then combined to make white light, said Vardeny. "This new polymer has all those colours simultaneously, so no need for small pixels and complicated engineering to create them."

"This polymer emits light in the blue and red spectral range, and can be tuned to cover the whole visible spectrum," he added. "As such, it can serve as the active [or working] layer in white OLEDs that are predicted to replace regular light bulbs."

Vardeny said the new polymer also could be used in a new type of solar power cell in which the platinum would help the polymer convert sunlight to electricity more efficiently. And because the platinum-rich polymer would allow physicists to "read" the information stored in electrons' "spins" or intrinsic angular momentum, the new polymers also have potential uses for computer memory.

In the study, the researchers made the new platinum-rich polymers and then used various optical methods to characterise their properties and show how they light up when stimulated by light.

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