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Title: Luminescence in Conjugated Molecular Materials under Sub-bandgap Excitation

Light emission in semiconductors occurs when they are under optical and electrical excitation with energy larger than the bandgap energy. In some low-dimensional semiconductor heterostructure systems, this thermodynamic limit can be violated due to radiative Auger recombination (AR), a process in which the sub-bandgap energy released from a recombined electron-hole pair is transferred to a third particle leading to radiative band-to-band recombination.1 Thus far, photoluminescence up-conversion phenomenon has been observed in some low dimensional semiconductor systems, and the effect is very weak and it can only be observed at low temperatures. Recently, we discovered that efficient electroluminescence in poly[2-methoxy-5-(2’-ethylhexyloxy)-1, phenylenevinylene] (MEH-PPV) polymer light-emitting devices (PLEDs) at drive voltages below its bandgap voltage could be observed when a ZnO nanoparticles (NPs) electron injection layer was inserted between the polymer and the aluminum electrode. Specifically, emitted photons with energy of 2.13 eV can be detected at operating voltages as low as 1.2 V at room temperature. Based on these data, we propose that the sub-bandgap turn-on in the MEH-PPV device is due to an Auger-assisted energy up-conversion process. The significance of this discovery is three-fold. First, radiative recombination occurs at operating voltages below the thermodynamic bandgap voltage. This process can significantly reducemore » the device operating voltage. For example, the current density of the device with the ZnO NC layer is almost two orders of magnitude higher than that of the device without the NC layer. Second, a reactive metal is no longer needed for the cathode. Third, this electroluminescence up-conversion process can be applied to inorganic semiconductors systems as well and their operation voltages of inorganic LEDs can be reduced to about half of the bandgap energy. Based on our initial data, we propose that the sub-bandgap turn-on in MEH-PPV devices is due to Auger-assisted energy up-conversion process. Specifically, we propose that the up-conversion process is due to charge accumulation at the polymer/NPs interface. This model requires that holes should be the dominant carriers in the polymer and the polymer/ZnO NCs heterojunction should be a type II alignment. In order to determine the mechanism of the up-conversion process, we will characterize devices fabricated using polymers with different carrier transporting properties to determine whether hole accumulation at the polymer/nanocrystals is required. Likewise, we will also use NPs with different electronic structures to fabricate devices to determine how electron accumulation affects the up-conversion process. Finally, we will measure quantitatively the interface charge accumulation by electroabsorption and correlate the results with the up-conversion photoluminescence efficiency measurements under an applied electric field.« less
  1. University of Florida
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
SF 428
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
University of Florida
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
Electroluminescence, sub-bandgap, triplet-triplet annihilation