Pixel design and characterization of high-performance tandem OLED microdisplays
Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) microdisplays - miniature Electronic Displays comprising a sandwich of organic light emitting diode over a substrate containing CMOS circuits designed to function as an active matrix backplane – were first reported in the 1990s and, since then, have advanced to the mainstream. The smaller dimensions and higher performance of CMOS circuit elements compared to that of equivalent thin film transistors implemented in technologies for large OLED display panels offer a distinct advantage for ultra-miniature display screens. Conventional OLED has suffered from lifetime degradation at high brightness and high current density. Recently, tandem-structure OLED devices have been developed using charge generation layers to implement two or more OLED units in a single stack. They can achieve higher brightness at a given current density. The combination of emissive-nature, fast response, medium to high luminance, low power consumption and appropriate lifetime makes OLED a favoured candidate for near-to-eye systems. However, it is also challenging to evaluate the pixel level optical response of OLED microdisplays as the pixel pitch is extremely small and relative low light output per pixel. Advanced CMOS Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) technology is progressing rapidly and is being deployed in a wide range of applications. It is also suggested as a replacement for photomultiplier tube (PMT) for photonic experiments that require high sensitivity. CMOS SPAD is a potential tool for better and cheaper display optical characterizations. In order to incorporate the novel tandem structure OLED within the computer aided design (CAD) flow of microdisplays, we have developed an equivalent circuit model that accurately describes the tandem OLED electrical characteristics. Specifically, new analogue pulse width modulation (PWM) pixel circuit designs have been implemented and fabricated in small arrays for test and characterization purposes. We report on the design and characterization of these novel pixel drive circuits for OLED microdisplays. Our drive circuits are designed to allow a state-of-the-art sub-pixel pitch of around 5 μm and implemented in 130 nm CMOS. A performance comparison with a previous published analogue PWM pixel is reported. Moreover, we have employed CMOS SPAD sensors to perform detailed optical measurements on the OLED microdisplay pixels at very high sampling rate (50 kHz, 10 μs exposure), very low light level (2×10-4 cd/m2) and over a very wide dynamic range (83 dB) of luminance. This offers a clear demonstration of the potential of the CMOS SPAD technology to reveal hitherto obscure details of the optical characteristics of individual and groups of OLED pixels and thereby in display metrology in general. In summary, there are three key contributions to knowledge reported in this thesis. The first is a new equivalent circuit model specifically for tandem structure OLED. The model is verified to provide accurately illustrate the electrical response of the tandem OLED with different materials. The second is the novel analogue PWM pixel achieve a 5μm sub-pixel pitch with 2.4 % pixel-to-pixel variation. The third is the new application and successful characterization experiment of OLED microdisplay pixels with SPAD sensors. It revealed the OLED pixel overshoot behaviour with a QIS SPAD sensor.