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Bright short-wavelength infrared organic light-emitting devices

Abstract

Organic LEDs that emit light in the short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) region, which spans the 1–2 μm region, are attractive for applications in biosensors, biomedical imaging and spectroscopy, and surveillance. However, fabrication of such devices with high radiance has not yet been achieved owing to an intrinsic limitation imposed by the energy-gap law, which leads to extremely low emission efficiencies. Here, we report that acceptor–donor–acceptor-type molecules with high coplanarity, rigid π-conjugated backbones, an extremely small reorganization energy and an electron–phonon coupling factor are capable of simultaneously providing a strongly suppressed non-radiative recombination rate and a high operation stability at high current density. We achieve electrically driven SWIR organic LEDs with an irradiance of up to 3.9 mW cm−2 (corresponding to 7% of direct sunlight infrared irradiance). These findings should open a wide avenue to a new class of organic SWIR light sources for a broad range of applications.

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Fig. 1: Chemical structures and theoretical calculation results.
Fig. 2: Optical properties and photophysical studies of representative A–D–A molecules.
Fig. 3: Rate constants of radiative and non-radiative recombination and PLQY as well as their correlations with the microscopic parameters.
Fig. 4: Performance characteristics and infrared image of the SWIR OLEDs.
Fig. 5: Demonstration of SWIR OLEDs for applications in semiconductor wafer-quality inspection.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. Source data are provided with this paper.

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Acknowledgements

Hongbin Wu thanks the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 52273177, 91333206 and 51521002) for financial support. Y.X. acknowledges the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 52003087) for financial support. C.G. thanks the Shaanxi Key Scientific and Technological Innovation Team Project (no. 2016KCT-28) and Shaanxi Key Project in Industrial Field (no. 2017ZDXM-GY-046) for financial support. W.D. acknowledges support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 62004069). X.-K.C. acknowledges the New Faculty Start-up Grant of the City University of Hong Kong (7200709 and 9610547). We thank D. Li for assistance with the OLED operational lifetime measurements.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

Y.X., Hongbin Wu and C.G. conceived the idea. Y.X. and W.L. fabricated the SWIR OLEDs devices. C.G., Haimei Wu and W.W. designed and synthesized the i-IDSe- and IDSe-series A–D–A-type emitters. Y.X. performed the theoretical calculations and the numerical simulations. X.-K.C. performed the theoretical calculations and provided feedback on the manuscript. Y.X., W.L. and W.D. performed the device characterization and optical absorption measurements. W.D. and W.L. performed the time-resolved PL decay measurements. Y.X. and W.D. performed the recombination-rate calculations. W.L. and Y.X. acquired the SWIR EL photographs. Y.S. set up the optical communication system. W.L. and Y.X. carried out optical communication demonstration, wafer-quality inspection and operational lifetime tests. X.Z. and J.P. discussed the results and commented on the manuscript. Hongbin Wu, Y.X., C.G., W.D., W.L. and X.-K.C. contributed to the writing of the manuscript. All authors discussed the experiments and results. Hongbin Wu, C.G. and Y.C. supervised the project and advised on device optimization.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Yuan Xie, Chao Gao, Xian-Kai Chen or Hongbin Wu.

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Nature Photonics thanks Juan Qiao, Xiaozhang Zhu and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–17, Notes 1–3, Tables 1–3 and Methods.

Supplementary Video 1

Demonstration of real-time through-biological-tissue audio signals transmission.

Supplementary Video 2

Demonstration of pulsed signals transmission.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

Statistical source data for Fig. 1d and the source data of the output of Gaussian 16 (ES64L-G16RevC.01).

Source Data Fig. 2

Statistical source data for the absorption and PL spectra of the emitters, normalized reduced emission spectra and modelled PLQYs.

Source Data Fig. 3

Statistical source data for the measured and calculated rate constants for radiative and non-radiative recombination and the PLQY of each emitter.

Source Data Fig. 4

Statistical source data for EL spectra, JRV characteristics and EQE–J curves of SWIR OLEDs.

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Xie, Y., Liu, W., Deng, W. et al. Bright short-wavelength infrared organic light-emitting devices. Nat. Photon. 16, 752–761 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-022-01069-w

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