We have identified coal tar pitch, a very cheap organic material made from coal during the iron-making process, as a source from which could be obtained emissive molecules for organic light-emitting diodes. Coal tar pitch was separated by simple dissolution in organic solvent, and subsequent separation by preparative thin-layer chromatography was used to obtain emissive organic molecules. The retardation factor of preparative thin-layer chromatography played a major role in deciding the emission characteristics of the solution as photoluminescence spectra and emission-excitation matrix spectra could be controlled by modifying the solution preparation method. In addition, the device characteristics could be improved by modifying the solution preparation method. Two rounds of preparative thin-layer chromatography separation could improve the luminance of organic light-emitting diodes with coal tar pitch, indicating that less polar components are favorable for enhancing the luminance and device performance. By appropriate choice of the solvent, the photoluminescence peak wavelength of separated coal tar pitch could be shifted from 429 nm (cyclohexane) to 550 nm (chloroform), and consequently, the optical properties of the coal tar pitch solution could be easily tuned. Hence, the use of such multicomponent materials is advantageous for fine-tuning the net properties at a low cost. Furthermore, an indium tin oxide/poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate)/coal tar pitch/LiF/Al system, in which the emissive layer was formed by spin-coating a tetrahydrofuran solution of coal tar pitch on the substrate, showed a luminance of 176 cd/m2. In addition, the emission spectrum of coal tar pitch was narrowed after the preparative thin-layer chromatography process by removing the excess emissive molecules. © 2013 Yamaoka et al.
Yamaoka, M., Asami, S. S., Funaki, N., Kimura, S., Yingjie, L., Fukuda, T., & Yamashita, M. (2013). Preparation of Organic Light-Emitting Diode Using Coal Tar Pitch, a Low-Cost Material, for Printable Devices. PLoS ONE, 8(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0062903