Sir Richard H. Friend is the recipient of the 2015 Von Hippel Award for his pioneering research on polymeric semiconducting materials, which has helped drive advances in LED and solar cell technology. In the 1980s, Friend initiated a research program in the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in England, to investigate the electronic properties of conducting polymers. Friend foresaw the use of such macromolecules as semiconductors, particularly in functioning diodes and transistors, and in 1988 showed for the first time that polyacetylene could demonstrate clean operation as a true field effect transistor. In 1990, Friend and his group published a paper in Nature showing that other polymers could function as LEDs. The paper was seminal, attracting more than 8,000 citations, placing it in the top 20 most-cited papers in the journal. The group filed a patent ahead of publication, which led to the founding of the successful spinoff company Cambridge Display Technology Ltd. Friend’s work on organic transistors led to the founding of another Cambridge spinoff, Plastic Logic Ltd. More recently, Friend has focused on the development of high-efficiency polymer solar cells. The 2015 Von Hippel Award, granted by the Materials Research Society, includes a $10,000 cash prize, honorary lifetime membership in MRS, and a trophy in the form of a mounted ruby laser crystal, to symbolize the many-faceted nature of materials research. More information about Friend’s work is available from the University of Cambridge.