Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Understanding degradation of organic light-emitting diodes from magnetic field effects

Abstract

The impact of magnetic field effects on the electroluminescence of organic light-emitting diodes is commonly used to characterize exciton dynamics such as generation, annihilation, and performance degradation. However, interpreting these effects is challenging. Here, we show that magnetic field effects in organic light-emitting diodes can be understood in terms of the magnetic response of device characteristics derived from polaron-pair and triplet exciton quenching processes, such as triplet-polaron interactions and triplet-triplet annihilation. Device degradation shows a clear relationship with the amplitude of the magnetic field effects, enabling non-destructive measurement of the degradation. The results and proposed mechanism provide a better understanding of magnetic field effects on organic light-emitting diodes and device degradation phenomena.

Introduction

An internal electroluminescence quantum efficiency of nearly 100% can be achieved in organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) especially by utilization of phosphorescence and thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) that involve intersystem crossing between the lowest excited singlet and triplet states (S1 and T1). However, a significant improvement in OLED stability is of crucial importance, particularly in blue OLEDs, so that they can be used in high-performance displays and light sources. To improve OLED lifetimes, a detailed understanding of degradation processes is required. Several mechanisms have been proposed1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. For example, Kondakov et al. reported that chemical decomposition of the organic materials is a critical degradation route1,2,3,4 that originates from high-energy particles, such as highly excited triplet excitons (Tn) and polarons (P*), generated via triplet–triplet annihilation (TTA) or triplet–polaron annihilation (TPA)5,6,7,8

$${\mathrm{T}} + {\mathrm{T}} \to {\mathrm{S}}_0 + {\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{n}}\, ({\mathrm{TTA}}),$$
$${\mathrm{T}} + {\mathrm{P}} \to {\mathrm{S}}_0 + {\mathrm{P}}^ \ast \, ({\mathrm{TPA}}),$$

where T, P, and S0 are a triplet exciton, a polaron, and the ground state. Tn and P* have high enough energy to decompose organic molecules and generate exciton quenchers and carrier traps. Recently, we clarified that TPA was identified as being responsible for the degradation mechanism for TADF-OLEDs, and the generation of carrier traps, the change in carrier balance, and successive exciton deactivation during device aging that significantly affect OLED lifetimes9. It has been strongly suggested that the dynamics of triplet excitons is largely responsible for device degradation. However, no direct evidence has been presented, and a detailed analysis of exciton dynamics via nondestructive measurements is complex.

To probe the dynamics of excited triplet states, external magnetic fields are used to lift the degeneracy. Magnetic field effects on the electroluminescence properties of OLEDs were first reported in 2003 by Kalinowski et al.10, where the field modulated the ratio of the singlet/triplet exciton yield. This was the result of modulating the ratio of singlet and triplet polaron pairs (1PP and 3PP). Numerous studies regarding the mechanism of magnetic field effects on OLEDs based on fluorescent11,12, phosphorescent13, exciplex14, and TADF emitters15,16 were investigated to unveil the underlying dynamics of exciton generation, radiation, and annihilation processes. PP11,17, triplet–polaron interactions (TPI)16,18, and TTA mechanisms12,16 were mainly used to explain magnetic field effects. However, the interpretation of these effects has been unclear, and the relationship between exciton dynamics and OLED degradation has been lacking.

Here, we demonstrate that magnetic-field-modulated electroluminescence (magneto-electroluminescence, MEL) can be used to track triplet exciton dynamics in OLEDs during degradation. MEL signals from TADF-OLEDs were divided into low-field and high-field effects that corresponded to PP and TPI mechanisms, respectively. We also find that the high-field effects exhibit a clear dependence on the delayed fluorescence lifetimes (τds) of TADF emitters. Based on the assignment of the origin of the MEL signals, we analyze those signals of degraded OLEDs that exhibited large amplitudes relative to those of pristine (undegraded) OLEDs. Then, we confirm that the shapes of the MEL profiles changed due to an exciplex formation according to the unwanted change in location of the carrier recombination zone. We thus nondestructively reveal exciplex formation at the interface between emission and hole-blocking layers that results in a low electroluminescence quantum yield.

Results and discussion

Assessment of magnetic field effects in various TADF-OLEDs

We focused on TADF emitter-based OLEDs (Fig. 1a). The complete device architecture is provided in Supplementary Fig. 1. First, the MEL profiles of undegraded OLEDs were analyzed to probe the origin of magnetic responses. Figure 1b shows typical MEL profiles of 4CzIPN-based OLED under constant-current condition (MELJ). To assess the origin of the MEL profiles, we performed a fitting analysis based on the Lorentzian and non-Lorentzian equations16,17,18,19

$${{\mathrm{Magnetic}}\,{\mathrm{field}}\,{\mathrm{effect}}} = \, {({\mathrm{Low}} - {\mathrm{field}}\,{\mathrm{effect}}) + ({\mathrm{high}} - {\mathrm{field}}\,{\mathrm{effect}})} \\ = \, {\frac{{A_{\mathrm{L}}B^2}}{{B^2 + B_{\mathrm{L}}^2}} + \frac{{A_{\mathrm{H}}B^2}}{{\left( {B + B_{\mathrm{H}}} \right)^2}}}$$
(1)

where AL and AH are the amplitudes and BL and BH are the characteristic magnetic fields for low-field and high-field effects, respectively. The results are summarized in Fig. 1b and Table 1. The MEL profiles had two parts, indicating that there are two different mechanisms.

Fig. 1: Magnetic field effects on electroluminescence intensity of TADF-OLEDs.
figure1

a Molecular structures of TADF emitters with delayed emission lifetimes. b Fit of magneto-electroluminescence profile of 4CzIPN-based OLED under constant 3.0 mA cm−2 current into low-field and high-field effects. c Magneto-electroluminescence profiles of various TADF-OLEDs. The dashed lines are fits. d Schematic of triplet-polaron interaction (TPI) in OLEDs under electrical excitation. A magnetic field suppresses the intersystem crossing of the polaron-pair state (small intersystem crossing rate, kISCP) and the triplet–polaron interaction (small triplet polaron interaction rate, kTPI). [T1P] represents a trion intermediate state.

Table 1 Fitting parameters of magneto-electroluminescence under constant current of TADF-OLEDs.

Because BL is a comparable value for the PP mechanism, i.e., ~5 mT16,17,18,19, the low-field effect originates from the PP mechanism that increases “bright” singlet excitons. The magnetic field suppresses the intersystem crossing between 1PP and 3PP states. In contrast, BH was large (~100 mT). We compared it with the zero-field splitting values, i.e., D and E, of the excited triplet state of 4CzIPN reported previously20,21, and good agreement suggested that the high-field effect results from the reaction of triplet excitons. The τds of TADF emitters affect the MEL profiles, as shown in Fig. 1c. Although the signs of all the MELJ profiles were positive, their shape and magnitude, especially in the high-field region, depended on the τds. This behavior could be understood from the probability of triplet exciton reactions such as TTA and TPI that should strongly depend on τds22,23,24. In fact, devices based on TADF emitters exhibiting long τd, such as 2CzPN, PIC-TRZ, and 3CzTRZ, showed steep rolloffs in electroluminescence efficiency, as shown in Supplementary Fig. 2.

Magneto-photoluminescence measurements confirmed that 20 wt% 4CzIPN:mCBP and 2CzPN:mCBP films did not exhibit clear magnetic responses in high magnetic fields (Supplementary Fig. 3). Thus, the contribution of a TTA event to the MELJ can be negligible. Furthermore, no magneto-photoluminescence response suggests that PPs are not induced from excitons generated under photoexcitation, as introduced in phosphorescent emitter and host systems25.

Considering the effect of TPI on MELJ, Fig. 1d is a schematic of a TPI process in OLEDs under electrical excitation. A triplet–polaron (trion) intermediate state is formed when a triplet exciton and a polaron collide, and has two possible spin states: “doublet” and “quartet”18,19,26. Because the doublet-trion reaction, i.e., TPA, is spin-allowed, the T1 that contributes to the reverse intersystem crossing (RISC) in TADF-OLEDs can be immediately quenched via energy transfer to the polaron, generating a ground-state molecule and an excited (hot) polaron. Because the energy of the hot polaron is enough high to dissociate chemical bonds, the TPA generates decomposed materials that are exciton quenchers and/or carrier traps. In contrast, the quartet state reaction is spin-forbidden and the lifetime of a quartet-trion is longer than that of the doublet. Thus, there are two possible quartet–trion reactions: “carrier scattering” and “exciton dissociation.” In carrier scattering, a quartet–trion separates into a triplet exciton and a polaron, and the net charge carrier mobility is decreased. In contrast, the dissociation process increases the net carrier density because the triplet exciton dissociates into a hole and an electron via the quartet–trion intermediate state. A magnetic field can suppress the interaction probability between a triplet exciton and a polaron, reducing the rates of TPA, scattering, and dissociation17,18,23,26,27,28. Hence, the emission and carrier transport properties should show a strong magnetic field dependence. Although TPA and exciton dissociation processes were observed here via TPI reactions in TADF-OLEDs, carrier scattering was not observed. Therefore, we infer that carrier scattering is a minor effect in TADF-OLEDs because of the limited change in carrier transport. The latter is due to the aligned levels of highest-occupied and lowest-unoccupied molecular orbitals of the doped emitters relative to those of the host molecules (Supplementary Fig. 4). Doped TADF emitters in the emission layers naturally act as strong carrier traps. Thus, we cannot observe the magnetic response via scattering process because the variation of carrier transport due to the effect of carrier scattering by a triplet exciton can be much smaller than that due to the carrier traps.

Comparison of magnetic field effects under constant current and voltage conditions

To understand the origin of magnetic field effects in OLEDs comprehensively, MELJ, magneto-resistance, MEL under a constant voltage (MELV), and magneto-conductance in 4CzIPN- and 2CzPN-based OLEDs are shown in Fig. 2. In contrast to the positive sign of MELJ and magneto-resistance (Fig. 2a, c), MELV and magneto-conductance include negative components (Fig. 2b, d). Because of the proportionality between electroluminescence intensity and current density, the magneto-efficiency under constant voltage (V) was calculated by16

$$\begin{array}{*{20}{c}} {M\eta _V = {\rm{MEL}}_V - {\rm{MC}}} \end{array},$$
(2)
Fig. 2: Magnetic field effects on device characteristics of pristine TADF-OLEDs.
figure2

a Magnetic responses in device characteristics of 4CzIPN-based OLED under constant current density of 3.0 mA cm−2. b Magnetic responses in device characteristics of 4CzIPN-based OLED under constant voltage of 5 V. c Magnetic responses in device characteristics of 2CzPN-based OLED under constant current density of 3.0 mA cm−2. d Magnetic responses in device characteristics of 2CzPN-based OLED under constant voltage of 5 V. e Magneto-efficiencies of 4CzIPN-based and 2CzPN-based OLEDs under constant applied voltage of 5 V.

Logarithmic magnetic field effect profiles depicted in Supplementary Fig. 5 separate low-field and high-field effects below and above 0.1 T, respectively.

MELJs have positive AL and AH, whereas MELVs have both negative AL and AH for a 4CzIPN-OLED, and negative and positive AL and AH for a 2CzPN-OLED. The Vs have positive AL and AH as shown in Fig. 2e. This indicates that negative AL for MELV did not result from decreased emission efficiency, but instead from the decreased current density, i.e., negative signs of magneto-conductance. Furthermore, the magneto-resistance in Fig. 2a, c, and Supplementary Fig. 5a, c can be attributed to TPI-induced triplet dissociation because of the increased net charge carrier density in the emission layers. In a magnetic field, the charge carrier density via exciton dissociation should decrease and the resistance should increase. Although the magneto-resistance profiles had positive AL and AH, the magneto-conductance profiles had negative AL and AH because of the inverse relationship between resistance and conductance. MELJ signals in Fig. 2a, c and Supplementary Fig. 5a, c had positive AH, indicating an increased electroluminescence intensity by the magnetic field, while the positive AL of MELJ can be understood as an increase in singlet excitons by the PP mechanism explained above. The high magnetic field suppressed triplet quenching through TPA and triplet dissociation processes as a TPI mechanism, and thus increased the triplet exciton density. It also successively enhanced the upconversion of triplet excitons to singlet states via RISC, resulting in the positive AH of MEL. In the case of MELV signals in Fig. 2b, d and Supplementary Fig. 5b, d, a decrease in current density by the magnetic field results in decreased luminance and a negative AL. The negative AH of MELV in the 4CzIPN-based device (Fig. 2b and Supplementary Fig. 5b) suggested that there was a larger contribution due to the decreased current density (negative magneto-conductance), relative to suppression of TPA and dissociation processes to increase the electroluminescence intensity. This was because of the small extent of T1 quenching in the 4CzIPN-based device. Therefore, the low-field and high-field effects result from PP and TPI mechanisms, respectively.

Exciton dynamics in degraded TADF-OLEDs

Magnetic field effects help to understand triplet exciton dynamics in OLEDs. They can also be used to track OLED degradation. Figure 3a, b, and Supplementary Figure 6 plot the decreased luminance and MELJ profiles of 4CzIPN-, 2CzPN-, and ACRXTN-based OLEDs under a constant current density of 3.0 mA cm−2. L/L0 is the relative luminance normalized by the initial luminance L0, which was 1686 cd m−2 for 4CzIPN, 492 cd m−2 for 2CzPN, and 812 cd m−2 for ACRXTN. During the degradation, the MELJs monotonically increased with decreased luminance (Fig. 3b), which strongly indicated changes in triplet exciton dynamics during device aging. The discussion below omits the effect of a TTA process on the degradation because it was not the primary channel for triplet quenching under low a current density (3.0 mA cm−2), as shown in Supplementary Figs. 7, 8, and Supplementary Note 1.

Fig. 3: Tracking TADF-OLED degradation via magnetic field effects.
figure3

a Luminance decays (L/L0) and operating voltage (V − V0) characteristics of 4CzIPN-, ACRXTN-, and 2CzPN-based OLEDs with a constant current density of 3.0 mA cm−2. L and V are the luminance and driving voltage, respectively. L0 and V0 are the initial luminance and driving voltage of degradation test, respectively. b Magneto-electroluminescence (MELJ) profiles of pristine and degraded 4CzIPN-based OLEDs. c Relationship between luminance decay and the amplitudes of low-field and high-field effects in MELJ. d Relationship between luminance decay and the characteristic fields of low-field and high-field effects in MELJ. e Relationship between operating time and the amplitudes of low-field and high-field effects in MELJ. f Relationship between operating time and the characteristic fields of low-field and high-field effects in MELJ.

The MELJ signals in the degraded OLEDs were well separated into low-field and high-field effects, and the magnitudes of both (AL and AH) were plotted with L/L0 and operation time in Fig. 3c, d, respectively. The ALs and AHs exhibited a linear increase with decreased luminance in all devices. The characteristic magnetic fields BLs and BHs were also plotted with L/L0 and the operation time in Fig. 3e, f, respectively. The BHs of degraded devices were smaller than those of pristine devices that exhibited good agreement with the zero-field splitting values of their excited triplet states, as shown in Table 1. The decreases in BHs thus suggest the generation of additional components that alter the magnetic field effect.

One component could be exciplex formation at the interface between the emission layer and hole-blocking layer. This is because of the change in carrier transport in the emission layer during device degradation, which induces a large accumulation of holes and electrons at an interface. This was confirmed by moving the recombination site toward the hole-blocking layer side and observing electromer emission from the SF3-TRZ layer as the hole-blocking layer (Supplementary Fig. 9). The electroluminescence had contributions from an exciplex (mCBPδ+:SF3-TRZδ) (Supplementary Fig. 10a, b), a shoulder emission component over 450–500 nm (Supplementary Fig. 10c), and a red electromer emission in the device with the undoped emission layer containing only mCBP (Fig. 4a). Because the exciplex has high S1 and T1 levels of 3.25 and 3.22 eV, respectively (Supplementary Fig. 10a), Förster and Dexter energy-transfer processes to TADF emitters are possible29. Exciplex species also generally show magnetic field effects originating from hyperfine interactions or Δg mechanisms (Δg is the difference between the g values of carriers that reside in donor and acceptor molecules)14. Figure 4b shows MELJs at various emission wavelengths (400–470 nm) of the undoped device that have clear magnetic responses for small (0.1 T) B. The MELJ signals in Fig. 4b exhibited unusual profiles because they may have included the emission from a monomer, an excimer30,31, or an electroplex13,32. The long-wavelength emission had large amplitudes (Supplementary Fig. 11), even though exciplex species generally show large magnetic responses in emission intensity at short wavelengths because of the distribution of the exciplex activation energy14. Although the detailed mechanism and the origin of these results remain unclear, the clear magnetic response of the exciplex under small B strongly suggests that MELJs of the degraded devices contain TADF molecule emission via energy transfer from the exciplex (mCBPδ+:SF3-TRZδ), as shown in Fig. 4c. Thus, we speculate that there were three components of the magnetic field effects in the degraded devices that originated from PP, TPI, and exciplex formation. The interfacial exciplex is an intermediate state that contributes to TADF molecule emission in degraded devices and lowers the BHs in device degradation stages, because of the magnetic response of the interfacial exciplex under small B. Although Förster and Dexter energy-transfer processes from the exciplex S1 and T1 levels to TADF molecules are possible, Förster energy transfer (FRET) from the film interface should be dominant because of its long-range character. That is, ηFRET > ηDEXTER, where ηFRET and ηDEXTER are the B-independent energy transfer efficiencies of Förster and Dexter processes from the exciplex to TADF molecules, respectively. As shown in Fig. 4b, an applied B increases the electroluminescence intensity of the exciplex, indicating an increase in the exciplex S1 population, pS(exciplex), and a decrease in the population of the exciplex T1, pT(exciplex). In degraded devices, the increase of pS(exciplex) under B increases the total energy transferred from an exciplex (ηFRET × pS(exciplex) + ηDEXTER × pT(exciplex)) and enhances the TADF emission. That is the increased MELJ amplitudes of degraded devices.

Fig. 4: Origin of the degradation event in TADF-OLEDs.
figure4

a Photoluminescence spectrum of the co-deposited film of 50 wt%-mCBP:SF3-TRZ, and electroluminescence spectrum of the device based on the undoped emission layer (only mCBP). b Magneto-electroluminescence profiles of the device based on the undoped emission layer with various emission wavelengths. c Schematic of energy transfer to TADF emitters in degraded devices. d Luminance decay curves of 4CzIPN-based OLEDs under constant high current of 30 mA cm−2. The pixels were fabricated on same substrate at the same time.

Electrically generated triplet excitons in the degraded devices significantly suffered from deactivation processes and were quenched because of their long lifetimes. The linear relationships between L/L0 and AL indicated that fractions of the triplet excitons, which cannot contribute to electroluminescence, increased with degradation in all devices. These increases were not due to the generation of “static” triplet quenchers, such as decomposed materials, because there was no change in delayed emission lifetime between the pristine and degraded devices (Supplementary Fig. 12) in both transient photoluminescence and electroluminescence decays33. We thus estimated the origin for the AL increases from the aspect of TPI probability. In degraded devices, the PP mechanism converted 3PP into 1PP, and the magnetic field decreased the population of quenched triplet excitons by TPI, resulting in the large AL. Furthermore, the polarons generated via exciton dissociation of TPI might recombine and generate PPs. Since the generated PPs show the magnetic field effects originating from the PP model again, the increase of polaron density also contributes to gain the AL.

We conducted displacement current measurements4 to obtain information on carrier transport and injection in the degraded devices. Displacement current profiles of pristine devices depicted in Supplementary Fig. 13 exhibited increases in capacitance and a plateau at injection voltage (Vinj), indicating carrier injection and accumulation. The Vinjs depended on doped emitter molecules in the emission layer. The current onset was lower than the 2.6-V threshold voltage (Vth) of actual current because the carrier injection and accumulation were originating from surface charges in the emission layer, induced by spontaneous orientation polarization of polar emitter molecules, as reported by Noguchi et al.4. The polarization of the doped TADF molecules forms a surface charge δ at the interface between the hole-blocking and emission layers, and δ+ at the interface between the emission layer and hole-blocking layer. The layer-thickness-dependence of the 2CzPN-based OLED in the displacement current profiles (Supplementary Fig. 13d) confirmed that electrons were injected and accumulated in the devices at Vinj. In the degraded devices, Vinj shifted positive and the accumulation charge densities were reduced because they were proportional to the difference between Vinj and Vth. This indicated the formation of the charge carrier traps, especially electron traps in the emission layer, and simultaneously suppressed carrier injection4. Hence, the generation of carrier traps in degraded devices changed the charge transport properties and increased exciton quenching by TPI. As reported previously, undesired triplet reactions such as TPI are origins of carrier trap formation in TADF-OLEDs9,34,35.

AHs for degraded devices include the effects of TPI and exciplex formation. The increase in AHs also suggested, as explained above, an increase in the fraction of triplet exciton quenching via TPI and nonradiative exciplex formation at the emission layer/hole-blocking layer interface. We understand device degradation by observing magnetic field effects, including PP and TPI mechanisms and exciplex formation.

Furthermore, the linear relationships between L/L0s and the MELJ amplitudes for pristine and degraded devices originated from both changes in electroluminescence intensity under a magnetic field (ΔIEL(B)) and that without a magnetic field (IEL(0)). The relative ΔIEL(B)s increase during initial device degradation, and decrease during the latter part (see Supplementary Fig. 14 and Supplementary Note 2). The magnetic responses of TPI and exciplex formation increase the magnitudes of MELJs. However, the recovery of emission intensity, i.e., ΔIEL(B)s, decreases in extremely inefficient devices because the conversion of 3PP to 1PP, and the suppression of TPI, cannot contribute to the emission of the TADF emitters in degraded devices. An example would be an extremely biased condition.

Supplementary Figure 15 shows the relationship between electroluminescence quantum efficiencies and MELJ profiles under several current densities of pristine and degraded 4CzIPN-based devices. The quantum efficiencies of degraded devices under low current density exhibited significant decreases relative to those under high current density (Supplementary Fig. 15d). Similarly, MELJs of the degraded devices under the low current density of 0.1 mA cm−2 had more substantial changes, indicating a large increase in deactivation of triplet excitons (Supplementary Fig. 15a, b). In the degraded devices, holes are transported to the emission layer/hole-blocking layer interface and become excess carriers, resulting in TPI36 and exciplex formation at the interface because of suppressed electron injection. Thus, quantum efficiencies decreased during degradation. Under 3.0 and 10 mA cm−2 current densities, quantum efficiencies were enhanced and MELJs decreased, because electron injection into the emission layer increased. Under 100 mA cm−2 current density, MELJs of the pristine and degraded devices increased again, in the same manner, indicating an increase in the fraction of triplet exciton quenching via TPI and nonradiative exciplex formation.

Device operation under external magnetic fields should lengthen the operational lifetime because the field reduces the triplet density and suppresses undesired TPI. Figure 4d shows the luminance decay curves with and without a 0.2-T magnetic field under 30 mA cm−2 current density. The field slightly but clearly improved the device stability. Specifically, the averaged LT95 (which is the time at which the luminance decreases to 95% of initial luminance) was 3.3 h without and 4.0 h with the magnetic field. Here, we assume that

$$\begin{array}{*{20}{c}} {{\rm{LT}} \times L_0^n = {\rm{const.}}} \end{array}$$
(3)

where n is an acceleration factor37. In Supplementary Table 1, we obtain n = 2.0, and LT95 is predicted to be 369 h under 3.0 mA cm−2 current density and a 0.2-T magnetic field. This is a 20% improvement in device stability and strongly indicates that either or both the decrease in triplet excitons and the suppression of TPI can enhance device stability. That is because the field reduces the triplet exciton density under low fields (PP model) and suppresses undesired TPI at high fields.

In conclusion, we investigated the magnetic field effects on the characteristics of TADF-OLEDs to understand the underlying dynamics of triplet excitons during electrical excitation and during OLED degradation. The results indicate that the increase in TPI is the main reason for decreased luminance in OLED degradation. Furthermore, from changes in high-field effects of degraded devices, we confirmed that undesired exciton generation, such as interfacial exciplex formation, also reduces the electroluminescence quantum yield. The analysis based on magnetic field effects can thus nondestructively clarify the dynamics of triplet excitons in devices under operation.

Methods

Materials

Various TADF molecules were used as emitters in OLEDs, and all were synthesized here (Fig. 1a). The 4CzIPN, PXZ-TRZ, and ACRXTN molecules have short exciton lifetimes relative to those of 2CzPN, PIC-TRZ, and 3CzTRZ. 4CzIPN, PXZ-TRZ, ACRXTN, 2CzPN, PIC-TRZ, and 3CzTRZ are 1,2,3,5-tetrakis(carbazol-9-yl)-4,6-dicyanobenzene, 10-[4-(4,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-triazin-2-yl)phenyl]-10H-phenoxazine, 3-(9,9-dimethylacridin-10(9H)-yl)-9H-xanthen-9-one, 1,2-bis(carbazol-9-yl)-4,5-dicyanobenzene, 2-biphenyl-4,6-bis(12-phenylin-dolo[2,3-a]carbazol-11-yl)-1,3,5-triazine, and 9-(3-(9H-carbazol-9-yl)-9-(4-(4,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-triazin-2-yl)phenyl)-9H-carbazol-6-yl)-9H-carbazole, respectively.

Device fabrication

The OLEDs were fabricated via vacuum vapor deposition without exposure to ambient air. The device structure (Supplementary Fig. 1) is ITO (100 nm)/HAT-CN (10 nm)/Tris-PCz (30 nm)/mCBP or mCP (5 nm)/emission layer (30 nm)/SF3-TRZ (10 nm)/30 wt% Liq:SF3-TRZ (50 nm)/Liq (2 nm)/Al (100 nm). The emission layers were formed using a co-deposition technique. For 3CzTRZ, mCP was adopted as a host and an electron-blocking layer because of triplet exciton confinement. In other cases, mCBP was used as a host and an electron-blocking layer. ITO, HAT-CN, Tris-PCz, mCBP, mCP, SF3-TRZ, and Liq are indium tin oxide, 1,4,5,8,9,11-hexaazatriohenyleane hexacarbonitrile, 9,9′-diphenyl-6-(9-phenyl-9H-carbazol-3-yl)-9H,9′H-3,3′-bicarbazole, 3,3′-di(9H-carbazol-9-yl)-1,1′-biphenyl, 1,3-bis(N-carbazolyl)benzene, 2-(9,9′-spirobi[fluoren]-3-yl)-4,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-triazine and 8-hydroxyquinolinolato-lithium, respectively. All organic layers, except for the Liq layer, were deposited at a rate of 0.1 nm/s, while the Liq layer was deposited at 0.03 nm/s. The deposition rates of Al were 0.1 nm/s. The device area was approximately 0.04 cm2. After fabrication, the devices were immediately encapsulated under glass using epoxy glue in a nitrogen-filled glovebox (H2O > 0.1 ppm, O2 > 0.1 ppm).

Sample characterization

Electroluminescence quantum efficiency measurements were performed using a calibrated luminance meter (CS-2000, Konica Minolta). For the device lifetime tests, the luminance and spectra of the driving devices in the normal direction were measured using a luminance meter (SR-3AR, TOPCON) under constant current density driving conditions. For the displacement current measurement, repeated-triangular voltage signals were applied to each device using a function generator (WaveStation 2052, Teledyne Lecroy) and the displacement current was amplified using a current amplifier (CA5350, NF). The applied voltage and the amplified current were measured using an oscilloscope (HDO4054A, Teledyne Lecroy). The applied voltage signal ranged from −4 to 4 V and the scan rate was 100 V s−1. For the transient electroluminescence measurements, pulsed voltages were applied using a function generator. The emitted light was detected with a photomultiplier tube module (H10721-01, Hamamatsu Photonics) and the signals were amplified with a current amplifier (DHPCA-100, Femto). All signals were collected using an oscilloscope with signal averaging performed over 1000 measurements. Photoluminescence quantum yields were measured using the Quantaurus-QY system (C11347-11, Hamamatsu Photonics) in flowing argon gas at 340-nm excitation. Transient photoluminescence decay profiles were recorded with a Quantaurus-Tau system (C11367-03, Hamamatsu Photonics) in ambient air. Fluorescence and phosphorescence spectra were acquired with a FP8600 (JASCO) at room temperature and 77 K, respectively.

Characterization of magnetic field effects

In magnetic field effect measurements, the magnetic field was applied along the direction of the substrate, and the magnitude (B) was varied over 0–0.57 T. Electroluminescence spectra were collected with a fiber spectrometer (MAYA2000PRO, Ocean) and the driving voltage (V) or current density (J) at each magnitude of the magnetic field was determined with a source-measure unit (Keithley 2612B, Tektronix). Measurements were performed for two cycles from 0 to 0.57 T and from 0.57 to 0 T, and were averaged into one cycle. Magneto-electroluminescence (MELJ) and magneto-resistance under constant current conditions were calculated from

$${{\rm{MEL}}_J = \frac{{I_{EL}\left( B \right) - I_{EL}\left( 0 \right)}}{{I_{EL}\left( 0 \right)}}},$$
(4)
$${{\mathrm{magneto}} - {\mathrm{resistance}} = \frac{{V\left( B \right) - V\left( 0 \right)}}{{V\left( 0 \right)}}} .$$
(5)

Magneto-electroluminescence (MELV) and magneto-conductance under constant voltage conditions were calculated from

$${{\rm{MEL}}_V = \frac{{I_{EL}\left( B \right) - I_{EL}\left( 0 \right)}}{{I_{EL}\left( 0 \right)}}},$$
(6)
$${{\mathrm{magneto}} - {\mathrm{conductance}} = \frac{{J\left( B \right) - J\left( 0 \right)}}{{J\left( 0 \right)}}} ,$$
(7)

where IEL(B), V(B), and J(B) were the electroluminescence intensity, the voltage, and the current density under magnetic field B, respectively. The fitting analysis of magnetic responses to separate low-field and high-field effects were performed with Lorentzian and non-Lorentzian functions with four parameters for amplitudes and characteristic magnetic fields. All the parameters were constrained as positive values in the fits. Initial values of AL, AH, BL, and BH were 0.05, 0.1, 3, and 10 mT, respectively.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon request.

References

  1. 1.

    Kondakov, D. Y., Lenhart, W. C. & Nichols, W. F. Operational degradation of organic light-emitting diodes: mechanism and identification of chemical products. J. Appl. Phys. 101, 024512 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Kondakov, D. Y. Role of chemical reactions of arylamine hole transport materials in operational degradation of organic light-emitting diodes. J. Appl. Phys. 104, 084520 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Scholz, S., Kondakov, D. Y., Lüssem, B. & Leo, K. Degradation mechanisms and reactions in organic light-emitting devices. Chem. Rev. 115, 8449–8503 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Noguchi, Y. et al. Charge carrier dynamics and degradation phenomena in organic light-emitting diodes doped by a thermally activated delayed fluorescence emitter. Org. Electron. 17, 184–191 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Giebink, N. C., D’Andrade, B. W., Weaver, M. S., Brown, J. J. & Forrest, S. R. Direct evidence for degradation of polaron excited states in organic light emitting diodes. J. Appl. Phys. 105, 124514 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Lee, J. et al. Hot excited state management for long-lived blue phosphorescent organic light-emitting diodes. Nat. Commun. 8, 15566 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Song, W. & Lee, J. Y. Degradation mechanism and lifetime improvement strategy for blue phosphorescent organic light-emitting diodes. Adv. Opt. Mater. 5, 1600901 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Baldo, M. A., Adachi, C. & Forrest, S. R. Transient analysis of organic electrophosphorescence. II. Transient analysis of triplet-triplet annihilation. Phys. Rev. B 62, 10967 (2000).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Tanaka, M., Noda, H., Nakanotani, H. & Adachi, C. Effect of carrier balance on device degradation of organic light-emitting diodes based on thermally activated delayed fluorescence emitters. Adv. Electron. Mater. 5, 1800708 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Kalinowski, J., Cocchi, M., Virgili, D., Di Marco, P. & Fattori, V. Magnetic field effects on emission and current in Alq3-based electroluminescent diodes. Chem. Phys. Lett. 380, 710–715 (2003).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Peng, Q., Li, X. & Li, F. Time-resolved spin-dependent processes in magnetic field effects in organic semiconductors. J. Appl. Phys. 112, 114512 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Zhou, J. et al. Charge-transfer-featured materials—promising hosts for fabrication of efficient OLEDs through triplet harvesting via triplet fusion. Chem. Commun. 50, 7586–7589 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Kalinowski, J., Cocchi, M., Virgili, D., Fattori, V. & Di Marco, P. Magnetic field effects on organic electrophosphorescence. Phys. Rev. B 70, 205303 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Lei, Y. et al. Ultralarge magneto-electroluminescence in exciplex-based devices driven by field-induced reverse intersystem crossing. Adv. Opt. Mater. 4, 694–699 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Deng, J. et al. Guest concentration, bias current, and temperature-dependent sign inversion of magneto-electroluminescence in thermally activated delayed fluorescence devices. Sci. Rep. 7, 44396 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Pan, R. et al. Extraordinary magnetic field effects mediated by spin-pair interaction and electron mobility in thermally activated delayed fluorescence-based OLEDs with quantum-well structure. J. Mater. Chem. C 7, 2329–2421 (2019).

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Prigodin, V. N., Bergeson, J. D., Lincoln, D. M. & Epstein, A. J. Anomalous room temperature magnetoresistance in organic semiconductors. Synth. Met. 156, 757–761 (2006).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Keevers, T. L., Baker, W. J. & McCamey, D. R. Theory of exciton-polaron complexes in pulsed electrically detected magnetic resonance. Phys. Rev. B 91, 205206 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Devir-Wolfman, A. H. et al. Short-lived charge-transfer excitons in organic photovoltaic cells studied by high-field magneto-photocurrent. Nat. Commun. 5, 4529 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Ogiwara, T., Wakikawa, Y. & Ikoma, T. Mechanism of intersystem crossing of thermally activated delayed fluorescence molecules. J. Phys. Chem. A 119, 3415–3418 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Evans, E. W. et al. Vibrationally assisted intersystem crossing in benchmark thermally activated delayed fluorescence molecules. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 9, 4053–4058 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Kondakov, D. Y., Pawlik, T. D., Hatwar, T. K. & Spindler, J. P. Triplet annihilation exceeding spin statistical limit in highly efficient fluorescent organic light-emitting diodes. J. Appl. Phys. 106, 124510 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Song, D., Zhao, S., Luo, Y. & Aziz, H. Causes of efficiency roll-off in phosphorescent organic light emitting devices: triplet-triplet annihilation versus triplet-polaron quenching. Appl. Phys. Lett. 97, 243304 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Inoue, M. et al. Effect of reverse intersystem crossing rate to suppress efficiency roll-off in organic light-emitting diodes with thermally activated delayed fluorescence emitters. Chem. Phys. Lett. 644, 62–67 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Kim, A. et al. Degradation of blue-phosphorescent organic light-emitting devices involves exciton-induced generation of polaron pair within emitting layers. Nat. Commun. 9, 1211 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Cox, M., Janssen, P., Zhu, F. & Koopmans, B. Traps and trions as origin of magnetoresistance in organic semiconductors. Phys. Rev. B 88, 035202 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Ern, V. & Merrifield, R. E. Magnetic field effect on triplet exciton quenching in organic crystals. Phys. Rev. Lett. 21, 609 (1968).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Wittmer, M. & Zschokke-Gränacher, I. Exciton–charge carrier interactions in the electroluminescence of crystalline anthracene. J. Chem. Phys. 63, 4187 (1975).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Uoyama, H. Highly efficient organic light-emitting diodes from delayed fluorescence. Nature 492, 234–238 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Hoffman, S. T. et al. Triplet excimer emission in a series of 4,4′-Bis(N-carbazolyl)-2,2′-biphenyl derivatives. J. Phys. Chem. B 115, 414–421 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Bagnich, S. A. et al. Excimer formation by steric twisting in carbazole and triphenylamine-based host materials. J. Phys. Chem. C 119, 2380–2387 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Granlund, T., Pettersson, L. A. A., Anderson, M. R. & Inganäs, O. Interference phenomenon determines the color in an organic light emitting diode. J. Appl. Phys. 81, 8097 (1997).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Schmidt, T. D., Jäger, L., Noguchi, Y., Ishii, H. & Brütting, W. Analyzing degradation effects of organic light-emitting diodes via transient optical and electrical measurements. J. Appl. Phys. 117, 215502 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Song, W., Kim, T., Lee, J. Y., Lee, Y. & Jeong, H. Investigation of degradation mechanism of phosphorescent and thermally activated delayed fluorescent organic light-emitting diodes through doping concentration dependence of lifetime. J. Ind. Eng. Chem. 68, 350–354 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Sohn, J. et al. Degradation mechanism of blue thermally activated delayed fluorescent organic light-emitting diodes under electrical stress. Org. Electron. 70, 286–291 (2019).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Sandanayaka, A. S. D., Yoshida, K., Matsushima, T. & Adachi, C. Exciton quenching behavior of thermally activated delayed fluorescence molecules by charge carriers. J. Phys. Chem. C 119, 7631–7636 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Féry., C., Racine, B., Vaufrey, D., Doyeux, H. & Cinà, S. Physical mechanism responsible for the stretched exponential decay behavior of aging organic light-emitting diodes. Appl. Phys. Lett. 87, 213502 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported financially by the Program for Building Regional Innovation Ecosystems of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan. The authors thank Ms. Keiko Kusuhara and Ms. Nozomi Nakamura of Kyushu University for providing chemicals for the OLEDs, and Dr. Kenichi Goushi and Dr. Yoichi Tsuchiya of Kyushu University for helpful discussions. The authors also acknowledge Dr. Hiroshi Fujimoto, Dr. Hin-Wai Mo, and Ms. Kaori Nagayoshi from i3-opera for their helps in OLED fabrication.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

The project was conceived and designed by M.T. M.T. prepared the samples and measured their properties. M.T., H.N., and R.N. analyzed all the data. C.A. supervised the project. All authors contributed to writing the paper and critically commented on the project.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Hajime Nakanotani or Chihaya Adachi.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tanaka, M., Nagata, R., Nakanotani, H. et al. Understanding degradation of organic light-emitting diodes from magnetic field effects. Commun Mater 1, 18 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43246-020-0019-0

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing