Degradation of Hole Transport Materials via Exciton-Driven Cyclization

Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays have been an active and intense area of research for well over a decade and have now reached commercial success for displays from cell phones to large format televisions. A more thorough understanding of the many different potential degradation modes which cause OLED device failure will be necessary to develop the next generation of OLED materials, improve device lifetime, and to ultimately improve the cost vs performance ratio. Each of the different organic layers in an OLED device can be susceptible to unique decomposition pathways, however stability toward excitons is critical for emissive layer (EML) materials as well as any layer near the recombination zone. This study will specifically focus on degradation modes within the hole transport layer (HTL) with the goal being to identify the general decomposition paths occurring in an operating device and use this information to design new derivatives which can block these pathways. Through post-mortem analyses of several aged OLED devices, an apparently common intramolecular cyclization pathway has been identified that was not previously reported for arylamine-containing HTL materials and that operates parallel to but faster than the previously described fragmentation pathways.