Not the sum of their parts: understanding multi-donor interactions in symmetric and asymmetric TADF emitters

Andrew Danos*, Dalius Gudeika, Nadzeya A. Kukhta, Ramunas Lygaitis, Marco Colella, Heather F. Higginbotham, Aisha N. Bismillah, Paul R. McGonigal, Juozas Vidas Grazulevicius, Andrew P. Monkman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A pair of thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) emitters with symmetric and asymmetric D-A-D structure are investigated. Despite displaying near-identical photoluminescence spectrum and quantum yields, the symmetric material possesses significantly better delayed fluorescence characteristics and OLED performance. Building on a previous study of analogous D-A materials we are able to explain these differences in terms of different strengths of electronic interactions between the two donor units. This interaction lowers the energy of the TADF-active triplet state in the asymmetric molecule, increasing its singlet-triplet energy gap and leading to worse performance. This result therefore demonstrates a new strategy to selectively control the triplet states of TADF molecules, in contrast to established control of singlet states using host environment. These results also show that multi-donor TADF emitters cannot be understood simply as the sum of their isolated parts; these parts have different electronic interactions depending on their relative positions, even when there is no scope for steric interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4737-4747
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry C
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Authors also thank the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme for funding under Grant agreements No. 641725 (PHEBE), 674990 (EXCILIGHT), 732013 (HYPEROLED), and 812872 (TADFlife). ANB acknowledges an EPSRC Doctoral Training Grant.

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© 2022 The Royal Society of Chemistry

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