Edwin L. Aguirre
Each year, a leading scientist in the field of materials science comes to UMass Lowell to present a lecture in memory of Sukant K. Tripathy.
The late UMass Lowell professor of chemistry was an internationally recognized leader and researcher in the area of thin polymer films in electronics and optics, publishing more than 200 refereed papers and holding two dozen patents. He founded the Center for Advanced Materials (CAM) and was formerly the University’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.
Now in its eighth year, the Konarka Tripathy Endowed Memorial Lecture is co-sponsored by Konarka Technologies and the CAM. Konarka is a world leader in the manufacturing of low-cost, flexible photovoltaic polymers, which are used to convert solar energy into electricity.
The 2009 lecture was presented on May 27 of this year by Sir Richard Friend, Cavendish professor of physics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and a fellow of St. John’s College and the Royal Society. He was supposed to deliver the lecture last fall, but had to reschedule it due to a conflict in his schedule.
Friend, who is world renowned for his research on the physics and engineering of organic semiconductors and is credited with more than 600 publications and more than 20 patents, spoke about “Plastic Electronics: From Science to Industry” to an audience of nearly 100 faculty researchers and graduate students as well as Tripathy’s widow, Susan, and their son, Aneil.
In his lecture, Friend discussed the advantages of carbon-based plastic electronics over conventional silicon-based semiconductors. He also talked about the latest studies being conducted on polymer light-emitting diodes, field-effect transistors, photovoltaic diodes and inkjet-printed all-polymer transistors. He and his team in the United Kingdom are currently developing and producing flat-panel displays and screens for TVs and monitors that are flexible and portable.
“The [electronics] industry is conservative,” he said, “and applying new technology or techniques in an old industry is costly and time consuming.”
Friend joins a distinguished list of Nobel laureates and leading figures in materials science research who have delivered the memorial lecture. This includes Profs. Alan MacDiarmid and Alan Heeger (co-winners, 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry); Prof. Robert Grubbs (co-winner, 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry); Prof. Craig Mello (co-winner, 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine) and Robert Langer, George Whitesides and Edwin Thomas.
Other annual activities honoring Tripathy’s memory include the Tripathy Summer Graduate Fellowship, which is awarded to doctoral students for outstanding research in the fields of materials and polymer sciences, and the Tripathy Symposium, which showcases the latest advances in the field.
For more information, visit the CAM website.