One of the requirements for efficient organic electroluminescent devices (OLEDs) is balanced charge injection from the two electrodes and efficient transport of both holes and electrons within the luminescent layer in the device structure. Many of the common luminescent conjugated polymers, e.g. derivatives of poly(phenylenevinylene) and poly(fluorene), are predominantly hole transporters (i.e. p-dopable). This article gives a brief overview of organic electroluminescence and electrophosphorescence and provides a more detailed consideration of ways in which electron transport in these systems has been enhanced by the incorporation of electron-deficient (i.e. n-dopable) small molecules and polymers into the devices, either as blends or by covalent attachment of sub-units to the luminophore or as an additional electron-transporting, hole-blocking (ETHB) layer adjacent to the cathode. The chemical structures of these systems are presented and their roles are assessed. Most of these ETHB molecules are electron-deficient aromatic nitrogen-containing heterocycles, e.g. derivatives of 1,3,4-oxadiazole, pyridine, pyrimidine, pyrazine, quinoline, etc. Non-aromatic thiophene-S,S-dioxide derivatives are also discussed. The article is written from an organic chemist's perspective.
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