Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are films of organic molecules, 100s of nanometer thick, that emit light in response to an electric current. Thanks to their mechanical flexibility, they are fast replacing the traditional rigid devices with flexible ones; they include flexible mobile displays, TV displays, and even flexible lighting panels. Despite commercial success, OLED is still an active area of research. In particular, many scientists are working to develop new materials that lower the cost of production and increase OLED efficiency.
In this work, we demonstrate two types of flexible OLEDs that aim to meet the increasing energy demands in two very different ways. First, we engineer a robust plastic material with long shelf-life to increase the luminous efficacy of white OLEDs. As lighting consumes roughly 20% of the total electricity in the United States, new lighting elements such as OLEDs are fast replacing the traditional ones by offering potentially cost effective and energy efficient alternatives. Second, we discuss plastics with high recyclability that can return to the environment without leaving solid waste. By designing chemical reactions and triggering said reactions with OLEDs, we demonstrate a proof-of-concept device that self-destructs. Such development may pave a way to developing more sustainable electronic components as most common plastics are extremely inefficient to recycle