Robust OLED material designed by Croucher scholars got exclusive license

12 December 2017

With the complementary expertise of chemists, physicists, materials scientists, and device engineers from 5 local universities, OLED and organic photovoltaics can be more affordable.

Recent advances in the design of high-performance phosphorescent emitters have led to the leap-forward development of organic light-emitting devices (OLEDs) and their applications in commercial electronic products, including computer monitors, cellular phones, and high-density televisions. Nowadays, almost all commercially available OLED materials are iridium(III) phosphors, with most of the key patents held by foreign countries, including US and Europe. This currently takes up more than 90 % of the OLED market, and the industry usually needs to pay high licensing fees for mass production.

With the complementary expertise of chemists, physicists, materials scientists, and device engineers from 5 local universities, namely the University of Hong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong Baptist University, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and City University of Hong Kong, the team has tackled the challenges for commercialization with the generation of more than 260 high-impact publications, Hong Kong-owned intellectual rights, patents and technological know-how that are industrial-competitive, making a significant impact to the fields of OLEDs and organic photovoltaics (OPVs).

Professor Vivian Yam (Trustee for Croucher Foundation, Croucher Senior Research Fellowship 2000, Croucher Studentship 1985), Professor Chi Ming Che (Croucher Senior Research Fellowship 1997) and Professor Chun-Sing Lee (Croucher Fellowship 1991, Croucher Studentship 1987) are members of the research team.

Exceptional performance has been demonstrated in the development of robust phosphorescent OLED materials. Various new classes of vacuum-deposited and solution-processable OLED materials have been generated, and highly efficient OLED devices with specifications meeting the industrial standards, including high external quantum efficiencies, extremely small efficiency roll-offs, and long operational lifetimes, have been realised. These superior performances have attracted a lot of interests from industry.

Notably, strong collaborative links with renowned industrial partners have been in place for the establishment of a joint laboratory and the execution of collaborative projects for the development and identification of promising OLED materials for large-scale production. An exclusive license agreement on OLED material patents has also been executed with one of the world’s leading OLED display manufacturers. The licensing is anticipated to realise next-generation OLED technologies based on our proprietary metal complexes. New classes of high-performance photoactive materials and novel device architecture for high-performance OPVs have also been developed. Particularly, with the aid of a deep understanding of interfacial and dynamic properties, the team has developed various convenient and cost-effective techniques and technological know-how that can be easily adopted for applications in large area and flexible OPV devices. 

The success of this project not only can provide a strategic alliance for multi-disciplinary research collaboration towards the demonstration of superior technology with world-class standard, but also facilitates technology transfer and collaboration with industries, motivating downstream R&D and commercialization activities in Hong Kong, the Mainland and in the international arena.