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OLED Deposition Technology

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Low-cost processing methods will be required if the small organic molecule materials currently under development for use in organic light-emitting devices (OLEDs) and other electronics are ever to realize widespread commercial application.


Researchers at PNNL have developed a deposition method for such materials that is specifically suited to wide-area, roll-to-roll processing. The method involves injecting a mixture of a non-polymeric organic compound with a fluid carrier into a “hot box” that converts the mixture to the gas phase. The gaseous mixture is then sprayed on a substrate, such as a polymeric substrate mounted in a vacuum web coating, that is kept at a temperature such that the non-polymeric organic compound condenses on the substrate, while the fluid carrier does not condense on the substrate and thus, can be captured for subsequent reuse.

Use of a fluid transport mechanism allows for extremely high thin-film deposition rates. Using this process, a thin-film layer of a small molecule compound can be efficiently and rapidly deposited on a wide area substrate. Proof-of-principle of the technique has been demonstrated by successfully coating the small molecule Alq3 on a PET substrate. The method may also be used to produce “patterned” electronic thin-film devices in which an active small molecule organic material is selectively deposited on a substrate to form a pattern appropriate for the operation of the device.

  • Potential low-cost, high-throughput method for fabricating OLEDS
Applications and Industries
  • Solid-state lighting
  • Thin-film electronics
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 7,592,043
Method and apparatus for coating a patterned thin film on a substrate from a fluid source with continuous feed capability
A method and apparatus for forming patterned coatings of thin film, non-polymerizable compounds on a substrate. A mixture of the non-polymerizable compound and a liquid carrier is pumped into the interior of a heated evaporation box having an internal temperature sufficient to convert substantially all of the non-polymerizable compound and liquid carrier to a gaseous form. The non-polymerizable compound and liquid carrier are then removed from the evaporation box via exit slit in the evaporation box. Adjacent to the exit slit, and maintained in a vacuum, is a first substrate upon which the non-polymerizable compound condenses. The first substrate is in motion, for example on a web roller, thereby allowing a continuous coating of the non-polymerizable compound to be applied to the first substrate. Once the non-polymerizable compound is applied to one side of the first substrate, an energy source is then directed toward the opposite side of the first substrate. In this manner, a portion of the non-polymerizable compound is removed from the first substrate. A second substrate is then provided adjacent to the first substrate, and the non-polymerizable compound is thereby transferred from the first substrate onto the second substrate. By repeatedly transferring portions of the non-polymerizable material from the first substrate to the second substrate in this manner, the thin film, non-polymerizable materials can be formed onto the second substrate in a predetermined pattern, and in a continuous and highly efficient process.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 09/22/2009
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
14154Prototype - Proof-of-principle has been demonstrated in fabricating thin-film OLED device, but substantial work is still needed to validate process reproducibility and scale-up process for commercial implementationAvailable12/14/201012/15/2010

Contact PNNL About This Technology

To: Bruce Harrer<>