In the past, polymers and plastics were used as a passive material in packaging and coatings. Their primary role was to be inert and insulating. With the discovery of conducting polymers in the mid-70’s, it was realized that instead of serving as a protective, insulting coating on conductors and electronic devices, they could also be made into conducting and semiconducting forms that could be used to create electronic devices and batteries. For this reason Alan Heeger, Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa received the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Recent advances have seen the integration of organic conductors into organic light emitting diodes (OLED) and the race is on to create efficient organic solar cells integrating conducting polymers.
Our group is focusing on the development of new conducting polymers and novel synthetic approaches to facilitate the use of conducting polymers in emerging technologies. Research areas that are directly impacted by our work include chemical sensing, electronics, energy storage and energy conversion.