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  • Chemists Win Nobel for Optical Polymers

Photonics Spectra
Nov 2000
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry to Alan J. Heeger, Alan G. MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa. The researchers are being honored for their work with conductive polymers, paving the way for organic electroluminescent display technology. Conductive plastic films have found applications in reducing static electricity and interference on computer screens and photographic film.

At the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in the early 1970s, Heeger, MacDiarmid and Shirakawa discovered that they could increase the conductivity of a form of polyacetylene a billion times by doping it with iodine. In 1990, Heeger went on to found Uniax Corp. of Santa Barbara, Calif., which investigated the development of organic LED devices.

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