Enhanced Methods for Specialty Chemicals Purification and OLED Device Fundamentals

September 09,2015

The Active Matrix OLED (AMOLED) market is undergoing rapid growth, and calls for specialty chemicals that require purification. Dow Electronic Materials and the University of Minnesota are collaborating through a University Partnership Initiative (UPI) program focused on Enhanced Methods for Specialty Chemicals Purification and OLED Device Fundamentals. This collaboration will generate knowledge to support the development of higher performance OLED displays and next-generation OLED commercial offerings. The associated internal program investigates Dow proprietary materials, and will facilitate the transition of this knowledge to the business.

Q1. How do you view future growth opportunities for OLED market?

Wayne Blaylock: The expansion of AMOLED into new commercial areas is increasing demand for active materials. Dow can capitalize on this projected market expansion by developing improved material purification technologies. In addition, a better fundamental understanding of device performance and discovery efforts will ultimately guide new materials development, allowing Dow to tailor solutions to customers’ needs.

Q2. What are the aspects of your research program?

Russell Holmes: Our research program with Dow began through the UPI, and takes a balanced approach to investigating OLEDs by combining novel purification strategy development with efforts to improve fundamental device understanding. The purification aspect of the program addresses thermal sublimation technology by improving separation efficiency and increasing throughput for next-generation processing equipment, as well as investigating novel non-evaporative purification technologies. These efforts led to the establishment of an internal sublimation program at Dow to investigate Dow OLED materials and leverage the knowledge gained from the University of Minnesota to the business.

Work in device fundamentals has involved combining modeling and experimental device fabrication/characterization to quantify the impact of impurity type, concentration, and spatial location on device performance and degradation/failure mechanisms. We expanded these to also examine the role of device architecture in dictating device degradation. In this way, we are providing a more complete picture of both the materials and architectural factors that impact device performance and degradation.

Q3. How will your research impact the market?

Russell Holmes: Active matrix OLED display companies such as Samsung and LG are investing heavily in fabrication technology for increasingly large displays. To support this growing industry, materials supply capabilities must also expand. Currently, material purification is a time- and labor-intensive process. Efforts to improve and scale, or possibly replace, existing techniques will help to meet demand, enhance material quality, and ultimately reduce cost. These process improvements coupled with a better understanding of failure modes and overall performance will enable the discovery and development of next-generation OLED commercial offerings.

Q4. What is Dow’s competitiveness in the market and its future landscape?

Wayne Blaylock: Dow has positioned itself to compete in several facets of the OLED materials market. We provide host materials for emissive layers and are actively working to enter the charge transfer materials market. Dow’s primary competitors in this space include Cheil Industries and LG Chem. Production costs are high because manual operations are required for conventional OLED purification, and competitors that are smaller compared to Dow, Cheil Industries, and LG Chem are not expected to produce reliably at large scale. Dow has filed IP around purification technology emerging from our research program with the University of Minnesota that introduces increased efficiency/throughput in OLED purification, and we continue to seek out IP-advantaged technologies to contribute to Dow’s competitiveness in this space.

The Active Matrix OLED (AMOLED) market is undergoing rapid growth, and calls for specialty chemicals that require purification. Dow Electronic Materials and the University of Minnesota are collaborating through a University Partnership Initiative (UPI) program focused on Enhanced Methods for Specialty Chemicals Purification and OLED Device Fundamentals. This collaboration will generate knowledge to support the development of higher performance OLED displays and next-generation OLED commercial offerings. The associated internal program investigates Dow proprietary materials, and will facilitate the transition of this knowledge to the business.

Q1. How do you view future growth opportunities for OLED market?

Wayne Blaylock: The expansion of AMOLED into new commercial areas is increasing demand for active materials. Dow can capitalize on this projected market expansion by developing improved material purification technologies. In addition, a better fundamental understanding of device performance and discovery efforts will ultimately guide new materials development, allowing Dow to tailor solutions to customers’ needs.

Q2. What are the aspects of your research program?

Russell Holmes: Our research program with Dow began through the UPI, and takes a balanced approach to investigating OLEDs by combining novel purification strategy development with efforts to improve fundamental device understanding. The purification aspect of the program addresses thermal sublimation technology by improving separation efficiency and increasing throughput for next-generation processing equipment, as well as investigating novel non-evaporative purification technologies. These efforts led to the establishment of an internal sublimation program at Dow to investigate Dow OLED materials and leverage the knowledge gained from the University of Minnesota to the business.

Work in device fundamentals has involved combining modeling and experimental device fabrication/characterization to quantify the impact of impurity type, concentration, and spatial location on device performance and degradation/failure mechanisms. We expanded these to also examine the role of device architecture in dictating device degradation. In this way, we are providing a more complete picture of both the materials and architectural factors that impact device performance and degradation.

Q3. How will your research impact the market?

Russell Holmes: Active matrix OLED display companies such as Samsung and LG are investing heavily in fabrication technology for increasingly large displays. To support this growing industry, materials supply capabilities must also expand. Currently, material purification is a time- and labor-intensive process. Efforts to improve and scale, or possibly replace, existing techniques will help to meet demand, enhance material quality, and ultimately reduce cost. These process improvements coupled with a better understanding of failure modes and overall performance will enable the discovery and development of next-generation OLED commercial offerings.

Q4. What is Dow’s competitiveness in the market and its future landscape?

Wayne Blaylock: Dow has positioned itself to compete in several facets of the OLED materials market. We provide host materials for emissive layers and are actively working to enter the charge transfer materials market. Dow’s primary competitors in this space include Cheil Industries and LG Chem. Production costs are high because manual operations are required for conventional OLED purification, and competitors that are smaller compared to Dow, Cheil Industries, and LG Chem are not expected to produce reliably at large scale. Dow has filed IP around purification technology emerging from our research program with the University of Minnesota that introduces increased efficiency/throughput in OLED purification, and we continue to seek out IP-advantaged technologies to contribute to Dow’s competitiveness in this space.