Universal Display’s ludicrous claim of owning phosphorescence

Friday, September 27, 2013.    Universal Display Corp. (“UDC”; NASDAQ: OLED) has repeatedly claimed that it “invented” and “developed” and “owns” phosphorescent OLED technology. These claims and UDC’s confessions that undermine the same claims are addressed in a separate asensio.com report. The weakness of UDC’s invention claims, however, is far worse than even UDC’s confessions.

UDC has acknowledged that its “dramatic breakthrough” involved merely the ‘routine transfer’ of one single example of commonplace OLED device architecture from existing fluorescent OLEDs developed in the 1980s with the addition of one simple existing iridium compound as an emitter. What UDC did not admit is that iridium compounds were widely known to be phosphorescent emitter years before UDC ever conducted the government-funded DARPA experiments that are the basis for UDC’s key patents. The iridium compound that it used was one that was particularly well-known to be phosphorescent.

By the time UDC made its “dramatic breakthrough” of using one iridium compound, Ir(ppy)3, in an existing OLED, not only were organometallic iridium compounds well known to be phosphorescent, but why and how they emitted light from triplet reactions was well understood. In fact, their triplet emission capacity was so well established that scientific research had turned to the synthetic production of commercial quantities of the phosphorescent materials. In order to accomplish this virtually all humanly possible explorations of organometallic phosphorescent compounds were being measured and published including the atomic position of each of the atoms that were bonded to the iridium, the distances between these atoms, the angles at which they bonded and the distances between these bonds. Below are two examples of this work that existed long before 1998 when UDC claimed it made its “dramatic breakthough.”

A July 17, 1990 article by K. Dedeian refers to the phosphorescent properties of the same compound used in UDC’s experiments, Ir(ppy)3, and directly shows data indicating that Ir(ppy)3 is phosphorescent (see Table 1). The luminescence of each of the iridium compounds is shown on this table at room temperature. But it doesn’t end here.

Dedeian’s second author on the above 1990 article is Djurovich. In the article the authors thank Dr. Nancy Keder for her assistance in determining the structure of an iridium compound. Keder conducted experiments to understand and describe the atomic structure of iridium compounds. This work laid the foundation for understanding exactly how organometallic iridium compounds’ structures facilitate the emission of light through triplet emissions. Keder’s work with Peter Djurovich, published in 1992, shows that iridium compounds with ligands like ppy work by the same metal-to-ligand charge transfer described in Dedeian. Djurovich also shows that iridium is easily oxidized.

From all of these publication, it is readily apparent not only that certain organometallic iridium compounds are phosphorescent, but also that Ir(ppy)3 was established as a good phosphorescent emitter material, even relative to other iridium compounds. This was common knowledge readily available before UDC’s purported “dramatic breakthrough” when they put Ir(ppy)3 into an existing fluorescent OLED structure. Not only was UDC’s emitter material well known to be phosphorescent, but it was also well known exactly how and why it was phosphorescent. With all that was known about OLEDs and organometallic iridium compounds, all that UDC needed was to read and follow the instructions of others.

Despite UDC’s admission that it “routinely transferred” fluorescent OLED technology and only added an emitter, it has not admitted that its emitter compound was already well known to be phosphorescent. But given the level of research into the phosphorescent emission of organometallic iridium compounds, especially Ir(ppy)3, years before UDC’s experiments, it is clear that UDC did not truly invent any aspect or component of its device. UDC’s claim of owning phosphorescence is ludicrous.