By inserting platinum atoms into an organic semiconductor, University of Utah physicists were able to "tune" the plastic-like polymer to emit light of different colors – a step toward more efficient, less expensive, and truly white organic LEDs for light bulbs.

“These new platinum-rich polymers hold promise for white organic light-emitting diodes and new kinds of more efficient solar cells," says University of Utah physicist Z. Valy Vardeny, who led the study of the polymers.

Certain existing white light bulbs use LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, and some phone displays use organic LEDs, or OLEDs. Neither are truly white LEDs but instead use LEDs made of different materials that each emit a different color and then combine or convert those colors to create white light, Vardeny says.

Vardeny and colleagues inserted platinum metal atoms at different intervals along a chain-like organic polymer and thus were able to adjust or tune the colors emitted. That is a step toward a truly white OLED generated by multiple colors from a single polymer.