Twisted molecules play an important role in the development of organic light-emitting diodes. A team of chemists has managed to create these compounds with exactly the three-dimensional structure that they wanted. In so doing, they are smoothing the path for new and better light sources.
12 April 2023 | Angelika Jacobs
They flash as a warning, glow red on standby mode, and light up your dinner table; light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have become indispensable in our daily lives. Somewhat less well-known, but just as ubiquitous, are organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs for short. This technology is used in the screens of smartphones, tablets and monitors. It is cheaper to produce in the form of a thin-film component, but cannot yet compete with conventional LEDs in some ways, such as in light output and lifespan.
In the search for new molecules that possess the characteristics needed for OLEDs, compounds known as helicenes are playing a central role. Helicenes are a group of substances in which rings made up of six carbon atoms (benzene rings) are joined together in a helical structure. When synthesizing these compounds, it was previously difficult to control the direction in which the molecules twist – their “chirality”. It was only possible with certain types of helicenes and to a very limited extent.
A new concept in synthesis
Professor Olivier Baudoin, Dr. Shu-Min Guo and Soohee Huh from the University of Basel’s Department of Chemistry have just made an important step forward. In the latest issue of Nature Chemistry, they describe a new concept in the synthesis of these important chiral molecules.