J. Gao, S. Chen, F. AlTal, S. Hu, L. Bouffier, G. Wantz. 

ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2017, 9, 32405–32410

A linear array of aluminum discs is deposited between the driving electrodes of an extremely large planar polymer light-emitting electrochemical cell (PLEC). The planar PLEC is then operated at a constant bias voltage of 100 V. This promotes in situ electrochemical doping of the luminescent polymer from both the driving electrodes and the
aluminum discs. These aluminum discs function as discrete bipolar electrodes (BPEs) that can drive redox reactions at their extremities. Time-lapse fluorescence imaging reveals that p- and n-doping that originated from neighboring BPEs can interact to form multiple light-emitting p−n junctions in series. This provides direct evidence of the working principle of bulk homojunction PLECs. The propagation of p-doping is faster from the BPEs than from the positive driving electrode due to electric field enhancement at the extremities of BPEs. The effect of field enhancement and the fact that the doping fronts only need to travel the distance between the neighboring BPEs to form a light-emitting junction greatly reduce the response time for electroluminescence in the region containing the BPE array. The near simultaneous formation of multiple light-emitting p−n junctions in series causes a measurable increase in cell current. This indicates that the region containing a BPE is much more conductive than the rest of the planar cell despite the latter’s greater width. The p- and n-doping originating from the BPEs is initially highly confined. Significant expansion and divergence of doping occurred when the region containing the BPE array became more conductive. The shape and direction of expanded doping strongly suggest that the multiple light-emitting p−n junctions, formed between and connected by the array of metal BPEs, have functioned as a single rod-shaped BPE. This represents a new type of BPE that is formed in situ and as a combination of metal, doped polymers, and forward-biased p−n junctions connected in series.