High-efficiency stretchable light-emitting polymers from thermally activated delayed fluorescence

W Liu and C Zhang and R Alessandri and BT Diroll and Y Li and HY Liang and XC Fan and K Wang and HM Cho and YD Liu and YH Dai and Q Su and N Li and SS Li and S Wai and Q Li and SY Shao and LX Wang and J Xu and XH Zhang and DV Talapin and JJ de Pablo and SH Wang, NATURE MATERIALS, 22, 737-+ (2023).

DOI: 10.1038/s41563-023-01529-w

We synthesized stretchable electroluminescent polymers capable of reaching a near-unity theoretical quantum yield through thermally activated delayed fluorescence. Their polymers show 125% stretchability with 10% external quantum efficiency and demonstrate a fully stretchable organic light-emitting diode. Stretchable light-emitting materials are the key components for realizing skin-like displays and optical biostimulation. All the stretchable emitters reported to date, to the best of our knowledge, have been based on electroluminescent polymers that only harness singlet excitons, limiting their theoretical quantum yield to 25%. Here we present a design concept for imparting stretchability onto electroluminescent polymers that can harness all the excitons through thermally activated delayed fluorescence, thereby reaching a near-unity theoretical quantum yield. We show that our design strategy of inserting flexible, linear units into a polymer backbone can substantially increase the mechanical stretchability without affecting the underlying electroluminescent processes. As a result, our synthesized polymer achieves a stretchability of 125%, with an external quantum efficiency of 10%. Furthermore, we demonstrate a fully stretchable organic light-emitting diode, confirming that the proposed stretchable thermally activated delayed fluorescence polymers provide a path towards simultaneously achieving desirable electroluminescent and mechanical characteristics, including high efficiency, brightness, switching speed and stretchability as well as low driving voltage.

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