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Members of the Optoelectronics Group carry out fundamental physics studies in different aspects of organic semiconductor materials. Their objective is to understand the physics at the detailed quantum mechanical level. There is a close link with the application of this research through the formation of successful spin-off companies and through the winning of large strategic grants. The group is part of the Opto- and Microelectronics Sector.
The group is interested in the physics of semiconducting conjugated polymers. These are long-chain organic molecules made from conjugated units such as benzene. They are inherently quantum mechanical objects with nanometer sized dimensions, and many of their observable optical and electrical properties can only be understood when adopting a quantum mechanical description.
In the late 1980's, the group discovered that these conjugated polymers behave in many respects like inorganic semiconductors and can be used in a number of semiconducting devices such as field-effect transistors, light-emitting diodes and solar cells. These pioneering discoveries were important milestones for the field of organic electronics, which has now developed into a large international research field with significant academic and industrial activities.
The group has commercialised some of its scientific discoveries through formation of two spin-off companies: Cambridge Display Technology is developing polymer LEDs technology for emissive, full-colour displays, and Plastic Logic is using organic transistors to enable flexible paper-like displays. The group recently announced plans for forming a third spin-off company to accelerate the development of polymer solar cells with financial support from the Carbon Trust.
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