School Seminars and Colloquia

Seeing Polymers in a New Light

Complex Systems Seminar

by Professor Andrew B. Holmes, ARC Federation and VESKI Fellow

Institution: Bio21 Institute and CSIRO Molecular and Health Technologies, University of Melbourne
Date: Fri 15th September 2006
Time: 3:15 PM
Location: Theatre 1, Ground Floor, 111 Barry Street, Carlton

Abstract: Polymers (plastics) are materials that have dominated our lives in the latter half of the twentieth century. They are generally perceived as lightweight potential replacements for much heavier structural materials such as wood and metals. Most plastics consist of materials witha distribution of chain lengths and structural variation which means that we have to measure their average properties rather than a specific property of just one molecule. This variability has the advantage of allowing the properties to be "tuned" to various applications.

Most of us associate the electrical properties of plastics with their ability to act as good insulators. However, in the 1970's a group of chemists and physicists showed that certain (conjugated) polymers could behave as conductors, with conductivities reaching levels as high as that of metallic copper. Along with that development came the realisation that conjugated polymers could also be used as semiconductors to complement and even replace in some cases the electronic properties of silicon and related materials.
This lecture will illustrate some of the general properties of polymers and will describe how conjugated polymers can be used as sources of light (LEDs), as transistors and as solar cells.

For More Information: Emma Lockwood Tel: +61 3 8344 1617