High stability and luminescence efficiency in donor-acceptor neutral radicals not following the Aufbau principle.


State Key Laboratory of Supramolecular Structure and Materials, College of Chemistry, Jilin University, Changchun, China. [Email]


With their unusual electronic structures, organic radical molecules display luminescence properties potentially relevant to lighting applications; yet, their luminescence quantum yield and stability lag behind those of other organic emitters. Here, we designed donor-acceptor neutral radicals based on an electron-poor perchlorotriphenylmethyl or tris(2,4,6-trichlorophenyl)methyl radical moiety combined with different electron-rich groups. Experimental and quantum-chemical studies demonstrate that the molecules do not follow the Aufbau principle: the singly occupied molecular orbital is found to lie below the highest (doubly) occupied molecular orbital. These donor-acceptor radicals have a strong emission yield (up to 54%) and high photostability, with estimated half-lives reaching up to several months under pulsed ultraviolet laser irradiation. Organic light-emitting diodes based on such a radical emitter show deep-red/near-infrared emission with a maximal external quantum efficiency of 5.3%. Our results provide a simple molecular-design strategy for stable, highly luminescent radicals with non-Aufbau electronic structures.

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