Nanotech OLED electrode liberates 20% more light, could slash display power consumption: A five-nanometer-thick layer of silver and copper outperforms conventional indium tin oxide without adding cost

A brand new electrode that might unlock 20% extra mild from natural light-emitting diodes has been developed on the College of Michigan. It may assist lengthen the battery lifetime of smartphones and laptops, or make next-gen televisions and shows far more vitality environment friendly.

The strategy prevents mild from being trapped within the light-emitting a part of an OLED, enabling OLEDs to keep up brightness whereas utilizing much less energy. As well as, the electrode is simple to suit into present processes for making OLED shows and lighting fixtures.

“With our strategy, you are able to do all of it in the identical vacuum chamber,” mentioned L. Jay Guo, U-M professor {of electrical} and pc engineering and corresponding writer of the examine.

Until engineers take motion, about 80% of the sunshine produced by an OLED will get trapped contained in the gadget. It does this attributable to an impact often called waveguiding. Primarily, the sunshine rays that do not come out of the gadget at an angle near perpendicular get mirrored again and guided sideways by the gadget. They find yourself misplaced contained in the OLED.

An excellent portion of the misplaced mild is solely trapped between the 2 electrodes on both aspect of the light-emitter. One of many greatest offenders is the clear electrode that stands between the light-emitting materials and the glass, sometimes made from indium tin oxide (ITO). In a lab gadget, you’ll be able to see trapped mild taking pictures out the edges reasonably than touring by to the viewer.

“Untreated, it’s the strongest waveguiding layer within the OLED,” Guo mentioned. “We need to deal with the foundation explanation for the issue.”

By swapping out the ITO for a layer of silver simply 5 nanometers thick, deposited on a seed layer of copper, Guo’s workforce maintained the electrode operate whereas eliminating the waveguiding drawback within the OLED layers altogether.


“Trade might be able to liberate greater than 40% of the sunshine, partly by buying and selling the standard indium tin oxide electrodes for our nanoscale layer of clear silver,” mentioned Changyeong Jeong, first writer and a Ph.D. candidate in electrical and pc engineering.

This profit is hard to see, although, in a comparatively easy lab gadget. Regardless that mild is not guided within the OLED stack, that freed-up mild can nonetheless be mirrored from the glass. In business, engineers have methods of lowering that reflection — creating bumps on the glass floor, or including grid patterns or particles that can scatter the sunshine all through the glass.

“Some researchers had been in a position to unlock about 34% of the sunshine by utilizing unconventional supplies with particular emission instructions or patterning buildings,” Jeong mentioned.

So as to show that they’d eradicated the waveguiding within the light-emitter, Guo’s workforce needed to cease the sunshine trapping by the glass, too. They did this with an experimental set-up utilizing a liquid that had the identical index of refraction as glass, so-called index-matching fluid — an oil on this case. That “index-matching” prevents the reflection that occurs on the boundary between high-index glass and low-index air.

As soon as they’d carried out this, they might have a look at their experimental set-up from the aspect and see whether or not any mild was coming sideways. They discovered that the sting of the light-emitting layer was nearly fully darkish. In flip, the sunshine coming by the glass was about 20% brighter.


The discovering is described within the journal Science Advances, in a paper titled, “Tackling mild trapping in natural light-emitting diodes by full elimination of waveguide modes.”

This analysis was funded by Zenithnano Expertise, an organization that Guo co-founded to commercialize his lab’s innovations of clear, versatile metallic electrodes for shows and touchscreens.

The College of Michigan has filed for patent safety.

The gadget was constructed within the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility.