Bredas, Photonics Research Group Among Investigators Awarded 2003 Descartes Prize

Flexible video screens that can be rolled up and carried away like a newspaper? Wallpaper that can be turned on like a television to display images? It sounds like science fiction, but it's the eventual goal of Professor Jean-Luc Bredas, a Georgia Tech researcher studying polymeric light-emitting diodes for displays, or PLEDDs.

And, this past week, the work earned his research team the most prestigious research prize given by the European Union.

Bredas, a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is one of a group of researchers - some based in Europe, others here in Atlanta - that has earned the 2003 Descartes Prize, an award for outstanding scientific and technological achievements resulting from collaborative research conducted in Europe.

Named in honor of René Descartes, the aim of the prize is to raise awareness of the scientific achievements of European scientists, highlighting the benefits of working together and the importance of the results achieved. The award ceremony for the 2003 prize took place Nov. 20 in Rome, and Bredas' research collaborators took first prize.

"It's a project for which Richard Friend at Cambridge was the spokesperson and that gathered research teams from Cambridge University's Departments of Physics and Chemistry, the University of Linköping in Sweden, my group at the University of Mons-Hainaut in Belgium and here at the Georgia Institute of Technology, plus industrial groups at CDT, Philips and Covion," Bredas said.

The award nomination is based upon these various research groups and their investigation of the revolutionary potential of PLEDDs for light and image display screens. Their eventual goal is to replace ubiquitous liquid crystal displays, or LCDs, with flexible PLED displays. This would allow for less costly processing and, because of the flexibility of the material, a new range of innovative applications.

"I am tremendously pleased by this recognition of Professor Bredas and his colleagues," Gary Schuster, dean of Georgia Tech's College of Sciences said. "The Descartes Prize is an indication of important contributions to science by Professor Bredas at the highest international level."

"The recognition of their work on advancing understanding of the fundamental chemistry and physics of organic, light-emitting diodes marks a new level of trans-Atlantic achievement for Georgia Tech that helps us fulfill our goal of becoming a worldwide leader in science, engineering and technology," Schuster said.

Bredas, a native of Belgium, joined Georgia Tech's faculty this fall, along with three other prominent researchers from the University of Arizona - Professors Seth Marder and Joseph Perry, also in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Professor Bernard Kippelen in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The four are widely considered pioneers in the fields of chemistry and optics, with a specialized interest in photonics - the technology of generating and harnessing light.

In addition to his appointment to Georgia Tech, Bredas also maintains an affiliation with his original research group located at the Universite de Mons-Hainaut in Belgium. The Belgian and Georgia Tech groups work in close collaboration. Members of both groups travel between the two locations as one way to strengthen research ties, Bredas said.

Significant progress already has been made in the application of PLEDDs - for example, Philips has incorporated the technology into their high-end Spectra shaver, marketed by Norelco. And, the technology appears to have great promise for video and other high-performance displays.