It has recently been demonstrated that light-emitting electrochemical cells (LECs) can be designed to deliver strong emission with high efficiency when the charge transport is effectuated by a majority host and the emission is executed by a minority guest. A relevant question is then: should the guest be physically blended with or chemically incorporated into the host? A systematic study is presented that establishes that for near-infrared-(NIR-) emitting LECs based on poly(indacenodithieno[3,2-b]thiophene) (PIDTT) as the host and 4,7-bis(4,4-bis(2-ethylhexyl)-4H-silolo[3,2-b:4,5-b′]dithiophen-2-yl)benzo[c][1,2,5]-thiadiazole (SBS) as the guest the chemical-incorporation approach is preferable. The host-to-guest energy transfer in LEC devices is highly efficient at a low guest concentration of 0.5%, whereas guest aggregation and ion redistribution during device operation severly inhibits this transfer in the physical-blend devices. The chemical-incorporation approach also results in a redshifted emission with a somewhat lowered photoluminescence quantum yield, but the LEC performance is nevertheless very good. Specifically, an NIR-LEC device comprising a guest-dilute (0.5 molar%) PIDTT-SBS copolymer delivers highly stabile operation at a high radiance of 263 µW cm−2 (peak wavelength = 725 nm) and with an external quantum efficiency of 0.214%, which is close to the theoretical limit for this particular emitter and device geometry.
- host–guest copolymers
- intramolecular energy transfer
- light-emitting electrochemical cells
- near-infrared emission