Alan Heeger Nobel Prize laureate discovered, developed conductive polymers

Alan Heeger – discoverer of conductive polymers

Article on Alan Heeger Nobel Prize laureate

Biography & Contributions

Alan Heeger (Alan J. Heeger) is an American physicist, academic and Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry born on January 22, 1936. He has conducted primary research on semiconducting and metallic polymers.

Heeger’s important contributions include he discovered that certain plastics can conduct electricity in the year of 1977. His greatest awards for his contributions are Oliver E. Buckley Prize, Balzan Prize and finally Nobel Prize for discovery and development of conductive polymers in the year of 2000.

Professor and his colleagues at the University of California, Santa Barbara has done pioneering research in the area of semiconducting and metallic polymers.

This class of novel materials has the electrical and optical properties of semiconductors and metals in combination with the processing advantages and mechanical properties of polymers.

His research group focuses on issues related to the fundamental electronic structure of this novel class of materials and carries out studies of light emitting diodes (LEDs), light-emitting electrochemical cells (LECs), and lasers, all fabricated from semiconducting (conjugated) polymers.

His current research interests lie in the area of transport in semiconducting polymers and light emission from semiconducting polymers (both photoluminescence and electroluminescence).

Properties of conductive polymers

Conductive polymers are organic polymers that conduct electricity. They can offer high electrical conductivity but do not show similar mechanical properties to other commercially available polymers. The electrical properties can be fine-tuned using the methods of organic synthesis and by advanced dispersion techniques.

Conductive polymers are prepared by many methods. Most conductive polymers are prepared by oxidative coupling of monocyclic precursors.

Conducting polymers are rapidly gaining attraction in new applications with increasingly processable materials with better electrical and physical properties and lower costs. The new nanostructured forms of conducting polymers particularly augment this field with their higher surface area and better dispersability.

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