While the external quantum efficiency (EQE) of iridium(iii) (Ir(iii)) phosphor based near-infrared organic light-emitting diodes (NIR OLEDs) has been limited to 5.7% to date, there is no significant EQE improvement for these types of OLEDs due to the lack of efficient Ir(iii) emitters. Here, a convenient approach within three synthetic steps is developed to afford two novel and efficient deep-red to near-infrared (DR-NIR) emitting phosphors (CNIr and TCNIr), in which a cyano group is added into a commercial red emitter named Ir(piq)2(acac) to significantly stabilize the lowest unoccupied molecular orbitals of the newly designed Ir(iii) complexes. They emit strong DR-NIR phosphorescence emissions at a wavelength of around 700 nm, with relatively high absolute quantum efficiencies of around 45% for their doped films. DR-NIR OLEDs made using CNIr and TCNIr exhibit high-efficiencies, affording peak EQEs of 10.62% and 9.59% with emission peak wavelengths of 690 and 706 nm, respectively. All these devices represent the most efficient Ir(iii)-based DR-NIR OLEDs with a similar color gamut. The simplified synthesis procedure of the DR-NIR-emitting phosphors in conjunction with their excellent performance in OLEDs confirms our efficient strategy to achieve the DR-NIR-emitting Ir(iii) phosphors.
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