We propose a radical new solution to the problem of increasing the efficiency of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) based on modifying the light-matter coupling by nanostructures. If successful, our new vision for strongly coupled organic light-emitting diodes (SCOLEDs) will bypass the existing technological bottleneck. OLEDs can be fabricated from earth-abundant non-toxic materials using energy-efficient processes, in stark contrast to the present market-leading inorganic LEDs. However, despite their much lower environmental impact, the widespread deployment of OLEDs has been blocked by their limited efficiency. To achieve the required step-change in efficiency, plasmonic nano-particle arrays will be used to enhance the coupling between light and matter within OLEDs.
Our objectives are to enhance OLED efficiency to a level competitive with inorganic LEDs, and at the same time to control the color, polarization and directional distribution of the emitted light. Analytic theory, numerical simulations and nanofabrication will be combined with optical and electronic characterization across an interdisciplinary team with expertise ranging from materials science and electronics to photonics and quantum physics, including world-leading proficiency in nanoparticle arrays and strong light-matter coupling. Our ambitious target is the proof-of-principle demonstration of an OLED with high external quantum efficiency and tailorable control of the properties of the emitted light. SCOLEDs offer the prospect of a breakthrough technology that will dramatically reduce the environmental impact of LED technology in lighting and display applications and will widen the palette of OLED applications to new and emerging areas such as electronic vehicles, augmented reality and urban agriculture.