This study presents the influence of various substituents on the photophysical features of heteroleptic copper(I) complexes bearing both N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) and dipyridylamine (dpa = dipyridylamine skeleton corresponding to ligand L1) ligands. The luminescent properties have been compared to our recently reported archetypal blue emitting [Cu(IPr)(dpa)][PF6] complex. The choice of the substituents on both ligands has been guided to explore the effect of the electron donor/acceptor and "push-pull" on the emission wavelengths and photoluminescence quantum yields. A selection of the best candidates in terms of their photophysical features were applied for developing the first blue light-emitting electrochemical cells (LECs) based on copper(I) complexes. The device analysis suggests that the main concern is the moderate redox stability of the complexes under high applied driving currents, leading to devices with moderate stabilities pointing to a proof-of-concept for further development. Nevertheless, under low applied driving currents the blue emission is stable, showing performance levels competitive to those reported for blue LECs based on iridium(III) complexes. Overall, this work provides valuable guidelines to tackle the design of enhanced NHC copper complexes for lighting applications in the near future.
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