Fabrication and characterization of thin-film encapsulation for organic electronics
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The rapid development of organic electronics is leading to a number of promising devices in the area of energy sources and conservation (e.g., solar cells and solid-state lighting), while also advancing display technology, sensors, and thin-film transistors. One obstacle to this development is the susceptibility of these devices to water vapor and oxygen, which are well known to cause rapid degradation in many organic electronic devices. In order to guarantee the minimum lifetime needed for various applications, high barrier performance encapsulation materials and structures must be developed and has been the object of much experimental research. However, there is a dearth of comprehensive studies which link the characterization, modeling, and integration of ultra-high barrier films with organic electronics. Such studies are necessary in order to advance the understanding of thin-film encapsulation and to find methodologies which greatly improve its performance. The present work investigates the processing and development of high quality single-layer and multilayer encapsulation architectures for ultra-high barrier films. For compatibility with organic electronics, this study focuses on low temperature fabrication processes which can lead to poor film quality. To circumvent the issue of defects, multilayer encapsulation films with alternating inorganic and organic layers were used to provide ultra-low permeation films. By reducing the complexity of typical multilayer architectures, a new encapsulation processing procedure was developed which combines a plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition fabricated inorganic film followed by a high quality film deposited by atomic layer deposition. The improvements that this hybrid film provided were through the quick coating of the device via plasma-based deposition followed by a short atomic layer deposition exposure to seal the defects in the first film. The barrier performance of all thin-film encapsulation was characterized in terms of the effective water vapor transmission rate (WVTR) by using Ca corrosion tests. A detailed study of the water vapor permeation mechanism through thin-film layers was presented. Finally, fully characterized encapsulation layers were integrated with organic solar cells to validate the effectiveness of the barrier layers. The compatibility of the encapsulation process with organic devices was investigated by comparing the performance parameters of organic device before and after encapsulation. The parameters of encapsulated organic devices with various encapsulation structures were compared with their initial values as a function of exposure time to atmosphere to provide a link between effective WVTR and shelf-lifetime of encapsulated organic devices.