Rational design, synthesis, and characterization of a photocrosslinkable hole-transporting polymer for high performance solution-processed thermally activated delayed fluorescence OLEDs†
A new photocrosslinkable hole-transporting homopolymer (PX2Cz) was successfully synthesized using 9-((3-methyloxetan-3-yl)methyl)-9′-(4-vinylbenzyl)-9H,9′H-3,3′-bicarbazole monomer via radical polymerization. Biscarbazole, as a hole-transporting material, has two reactive sites that can introduce a radical polymerizable styrene moiety and a photocrosslinkable oxetane moiety. The photocuring temperature and time for the PX2Cz film was optimized to be 120 °C and 10 s. The photocured films showed good solvent resistance, which is favorable for the deposition of an emitting-layer solution on them. In particular, the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) energy of the as-cast PX2Cz film was determined to be −5.37 eV which remained unchanged even after photocuring, thus facilitating hole transportation from the hole-injection layer. Subsequently, solution-processed, green, thermally activated delayed fluorescent organic light-emitting diodes (TADF-OLEDs) were manufactured using PX2Cz as the hole-transport material. The devices displayed a notable performance with an exceptionally low turn-on voltage (Von) of only 2.8 V and a high external quantum efficiency (EQE) of 22.5%; these values are substantially better than those of commonly used poly(9-vinylcarbazole) (PVK)-based OLEDs (Von = 3.6 V, EQE of 15.5%). The remarkably low turn-on voltage and high EQE were ascribed to the shallower HOMO energy level and more pronounced hole-transport ability of the photocured PX2Cz film.