A multicolour bistable electronic shelf label based on intramolecular proton-coupled electron transfer


Bistable electrochromic materials have been explored as a viable alternative to reduce energy consumption in display applications. However, the development of ideal bistable electrochromic displays (especially multicolour displays) remains challenging due to the intrinsic limitations associated with existing electrochromic processes. Here, a bistable electrochromic device with good overall performance—including bistability (>52 h), reversibility (>12,000 cycles), colouration efficiency (≥1,240 cm2 C−1) and transmittance change (70%) with fast switching (≤1.5 s)—was designed and developed based on concerted intramolecular proton-coupled electron transfer. This approach was used to develop black, magenta, yellow and blue displays as well as a multicolour bistable electrochromic shelf label. The design principles derived from this unconventional exploration of concerted intramolecular proton-coupled electron transfer may also be useful in different optoelectronic applications.

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Fig. 1: Design of electrochromic materials based on intramolecular PCET.
Fig. 2: Investigation of the concerted intramolecular PCET mechanism.
Fig. 3: Optimization of the solid-state electrochromic devices.
Fig. 4: Electrochromic performance of the solid-state device.
Fig. 5: Applications of electrochromic devices.

Data availability

The data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article and the Supplementary Information and from the corresponding authors on reasonable request.


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This study was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 21602075, 21875087) and the programme for JLU Science and Technology Innovative Research Team and Young Elite Scientist Sponsorship Program by Jilin Province of China (181903).

Author information

Y.-M.Z., S.X.-A.Z., Y.W., S.W. and X.W. conceived this project. Y.W., S.W., X.W. and Y.-M.Z. designed the experiments. Y.W., S.W., X.W., W.Zhang and W.Zheng performed the experiments. Y.W., S.W., X.W. and W.Zheng synthesized the materials. Y.W. and X.W. researched the mechanism. Y.W. and W.Zhang fabricated the devices. Y.W., S.W., Y.-M.Z. and S.X.-A.Z. analysed the results. Y.W., Y.-M.Z. and S.X.-A.Z. wrote and revised the manuscript. The project was planned, directed and supervised by S.X.-A.Z. and Y.-M.Z. All authors have given approval to the final version of the manuscript.

Correspondence to Yu-Mo Zhang or Sean Xiao-An Zhang.

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Supplementary information


Bistable electronic shelf label display.


Multicolour bistable electronic shelf label display.

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–49, Tables 1–6, Notes 1 and 2, Methods 1–6, Schemes 1–7, Video Legends 1 and 2 and refs. 1–30.

Supplementary Video 1

Bistable electronic shelf label display.

Supplementary Video 2

Multicolour bistable electronic shelf label display.

Crystallographic Information Files

Crystallographic information for M1, M2 and M3.

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Wang, Y., Wang, S., Wang, X. et al. A multicolour bistable electronic shelf label based on intramolecular proton-coupled electron transfer. Nat. Mater. 18, 1335–1342 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-019-0471-8

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