Journal of Photonics for Energy • Open AccessRecent advances in light outcoupling from white organic light-emitting diodes
Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) have been successfully introduced to the smartphone display market and have geared up to become contenders for applications in general illumination where they promise to combine efficient generation of white light with excellent color quality, glare-free illumination, and highly attractive designs. Device efficiency is the key requirement for such white OLEDs, not only from a sustainability perspective, but also because at the high brightness required for general illumination, losses lead to heating and may, thus, cause rapid device degradation. The efficiency of white OLEDs increased tremendously over the past two decades, and internal charge-to-photon conversion can now be achieved at ∼100% yield. However, the extraction of photons remains rather inefficient (typically <30%). Here, we provide an introduction to the underlying physics of outcoupling in white OLEDs and review recent progress toward making light extraction more efficient. We describe how structures that scatter, refract, or diffract light can be attached to the outside of white OLEDs (external outcoupling) or can be integrated close to the active layers of the device (internal outcoupling). Moreover, the prospects of using top-emitting metal–metal microcavity designs for white OLEDs and of tuning the average orientation of the emissive molecules within the OLED are discussed.