by Holly Jordan
AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate
1/29/2016 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Dr.
Alan J. Heeger, recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, visited
the Air Force Research Laboratory's Materials and Manufacturing
Directorate on January 26, 2016, to present his work with
room-temperature ultrasensitive photodetectors.
Heeger, who received the Nobel Prize for his breakthrough discovery and
development of electrically-conductive plastic polymers, presented his
latest research along with Dr. Xiong Gong from the University of
Akron. Their work, funded largely through the Air Force Office of
Scientific Research, could enable a new class of photodetectors that
could be used for a wide range of military as well as commercial
Contemporary photodetectors use a variety of separate materials to
enable detection of wavelengths from ultraviolet to infrared, and in
many cases they must be cooled to extremely low temperatures to increase
sensitivity to longer wavelengths.
Through the use of novel low bandgap semiconducting polymers, Heeger and
Gong developed room-temperature operated photodetectors with a broad
spectral response. This development opens the potential for a wider
range of applications, such as advanced day/night cameras, more secure
communications, remote control and sensing devices, and enhanced
environmental monitoring, to name just a few.
According to Dr. Tim Bunning, Chief Scientist of the Materials and
Manufacturing Directorate, the work of Heeger and Gong is the latest
example of AFRL-funded collaborative efforts with Nobel Prize winning
"Sometimes we take it for granted, but AFRL is a powerhouse," Bunning
said. "This is reflected by the fact that 77 Nobel Prize winners have
been substantially funded by our organization, primarily through AFOSR,
through the years."
Bunning added that the Materials and Manufacturing directorate has
engaged in professional collaborations with a number of these Nobel
Laureates, with many significant research efforts emerging from these