Lens-free OLEDs as efficient as inorganic LEDs
For the first time, a team of researchers from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) designed a systematic way to yield OLEDs with an external quantum efficiency (EQE) greater than 50% with an external scattering medium.
So far, highly efficient OLEDs were often achieved with a macroscopic lens or complex internal nanostructures, which undermines the key advantages of OLEDs as an affordable planar light sources and tends to hinder their stable operation, thus putting a limitation to their commercialization.
Among various methods proven effective for OLED light extraction, a team led by Professor Seunghyup Yoo at the School of Electrical Engineering focused on the external scattering-based approach, as it can maintain planar geometry and compatibility with flexibility. It is also able to be fabricated on a large scale at a low cost and causes no interference with electrical properties of OLEDs.
Conventionally, research on enhancing OLED light extraction using light scattering has been conducted empirically in many cases. This time, the team developed comprehensive and analytical methodology to theoretically predict structures that maximize efficiency.
Considering OLEDs with the external scattering layers as a whole rather than two separate entities, the researchers combined the mathematical description of the scattering phenomena with the optical model for light emission within an OLED to rapidly predict the characteristics of many devices with various structures. Based on this approach, the team theoretically predicted the optimal combination of scattering layers and OLED architectures that can lead to the maximum efficiency.
Following this theoretical prediction, the team experimentally produced the optimal light scattering film and incorporated it to OLEDs with orange emitters having a high degree of horizontal dipole orientation. As a result, the team successfully realized OLEDs exhibiting EQE of 56% and power efficiency of 221 lm/W.
This is one of the highest efficiencies ever realized for an OLED unit device without the help of a macroscopic lens or internal light extraction structures.
“There are various technologies developed for improving OLED light extraction efficiency; nevertheless, most of them have not reached a level of practical use. This research mainly provides a systematic way to attain an EQE of 50% or higher in OLEDs while keeping in mind the constraints for commercialization. The approach shown here can readily be applied to lighting devices or sensors of wearable devices” said Professor Yoo.
KAIST – www.kaist.edu