Breakthrough in Blue OLED Technology Promises More Efficient, Longer-Lasting Displays

In a groundbreaking study published in Nature Materials, a team of researchers from Northumbria, Cambridge, Imperial, and Loughborough universities have developed a new approach to producing blue light in OLED displays. This innovation could lead to more energy-efficient and longer-lasting screens for smartphones, televisions, and other devices.

The key to this breakthrough lies in the design of a new light-emitting molecule that addresses the notorious “blue OLED problem.” Blue light-emitting subpixels in OLED displays are the least stable and most energy-intensive, often leading to screen burn-in and reduced device lifespans.

The figure presents three different matrix-free material combinations for OLED systems, labeled as System A, System B, and System C. a) The table shows the specific material combinations used in each of the three systems. b) The graph displays the electroluminescence (EL) spectra of System A, with photographs of the OLED emission from this system shown in the insets. c) The graph presents the EL spectra of System B. The inset shows the single-crystal X-ray diffraction (XRD) structure of the material En-Per, which is used in System B. d) The graph illustrates the EL spectra of System C, with photographs of the OLED emission from this system shown in the insets. (Source: Nature Materials)

The researchers’ novel molecule features shields that block destructive energy pathways and control how the molecules interact. By simplifying the emissive layer of the blue pixel to only two components, the team has maintained high efficiency while potentially driving down manufacturing costs.

Dr. Marc Etherington, Assistant Professor at Northumbria University, led a spectroscopic analysis of the molecules’ triplet energies, providing crucial insights into their energy transfer process. His findings helped the team form a complete picture of the energy level arrangement, informing the design and use of materials in future OLEDs.

Co-corresponding author Dr. Daniel Congrave from the University of Cambridge, who led the material design and synthetic work alongside Prof. Hugo Bronstein, emphasized the importance of this discovery. “The molecule we describe in this paper is one of the narrowest emitting blue molecules out there, which is very useful for screens because it allows for high color purity,” he stated.

As manufacturers and consumers alike work towards net zero targets, this breakthrough in blue OLED technology could have a significant impact on the energy consumption of our devices in the information era. While it may take some time before this innovation reaches consumer electronics, it represents a promising step towards more efficient and sustainable displays.


Cho, H.-H., Congrave, D. G., Gillett, A. J., Montanaro, S., Francis, H. E., Riesgo-Gonzalez, V., Ye, J., Chowdury, R., Zeng, W., Etherington, M. K., Royakkers, J., Millington, O., Bond, A. D., Plasser, F., Frost, J. M., Grey, C. P., Rao, A., Friend, R. H., Greenham, N. C., & Bronstein, H. (2024). Suppression of Dexter transfer by covalent encapsulation for efficient matrix-free narrowband deep blue hyperfluorescent OLEDs. Nature Materials, 1–8.