University Medal for Penn's Nobelists in Chemistry
As a chemist with distinguished research accomplishments in inorganic and materials chemistry, you had the vision to foresee the possibility of making organic polymers conduct electricity, resulting in the discovery and development of the new class of material "Conducting Polymers".
As a member of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania since 1955 you made fundamental contributions to the chemistry of silicon and transition metals prior to your discovery of polymer conductivity in 1977. In collaboration with Hideki Shirakawa and colleague physicist Alan Heeger, you demonstrated that the organic polymer, polyacetylene, could be chemically doped to exhibit metallic properties, thus discovering a phenomenon completely new and unexpected to both the chemistry and physics communities.
Since your seminal paper on the doping of polyaniline this conducting polymer has become the testing ground for the theoretical understanding and technological applications of conducting polymers. Your work has led to an explosion of technological activity associated with polyaniline, including the development of light-emitting diodes.
Your pioneering endeavors in the field of conducting polymers have left an extraordinary and dramatic impact on the scientific community stimulating worldwide interest in the fields of chemistry, physics, materials and electronics. The technological impact of your work has proven to be fundamental and far reaching.
You have been both a distinguished leader and colleague to the community of scientists studying conducting polymers. You have been especially attentive to its youngest members, encouraging them as they began their research careers in this new interdisciplinary field.
In recognition of these accomplishments you have been the recipient of many Honors and Awards, among which are the American Chemical Society Awards in Organosilicon Chemistry and in Materials Chemistry, the Chemical Pioneer Award of American Institute of Chemists, the Francis J. Clamer Award from The Franklin Institute, the first recipient of the Ralph Connor Award from the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Top 100 Innovation Award by Science Digest, and the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry shared with Heeger and Shirakawa.
In recognition of your contribution to the discovery and development of conducting polymers and fundamental advancements in inorganic and materials chemistry, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania are proud to present you the University's Medal for Distinguished Achievement.
Educated as a polymer chemist, you demonstrated that polymers with the properties of semiconductors and metals can be processed into freestanding films, as well as film coatings, with controlled organization of the polymers on the molecular level. This opened the door to further extraordinary science and also to whole new classes of polymer-based technologies.
At Tokyo Institute of Technology in the early 1970s you discovered that the simplest conductive polymer, polyacetylene, can be synthesized to form free-standing, flexible films using only welder's gas and a concentrated catalyst solution. The metallic silver sheen of these materials reflected the science that would develop world wide. Your sharing of these films with Alan MacDiarmid precipitated the collaboration that was to become the field of conductive polymers.
During your extended stay at the University of Pennsylvania your work in collaboration with Alan MacDiarmid and Alan Heeger resulted in the chemical doping of polyacetylene to produce the first conductive and semiconductive polymers.
Your extensive spectroscopic studies of conducting polymers at the Institute of Materials Science, University of Tsukuba, yielded important insight. Coupling pi-conjugated polymers with liquid crystal properties opened up new avenues for science. Further development of the latter method enabled you to synthesize helical polyacetylene that consists of clockwise or counterclockwise helical structures of fibrils.
You have been a collaborator and advisor, leading many others to achieve at their highest level. Your leadership has been recognized through honors including The 1983 Award of the Society of Polymer Science, Japan, and the 2000 Award for Distinguished Service in Advancement of Polymer Science, given by The Society of Polymer Science, Japan, and the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry shared with MacDiarmid and Heeger. You continue to lead at the highest levels, now as a Member of Council for Science and Technology Policy and also as a Cabinet Officer in Japan.
In recognition of your discovery of conducting polymers and key advances in their processing, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania are proud to present you the University's Medal for Distinguished Achievement.
Alan J. Heeger
Trained as a physicist, you ventured into a new field at the frontiers of physics, chemistry and materials science, exploring electronic phenomena in a new class of materials and developing the "fourth generation of polymeric materials."
As a member of the Department of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania for twenty years, and as director of its Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter, you made fundamental contributions to understanding organic conductors and quasi one-dimensional materials. With your colleagues Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa you demonstrated that the conjugated polymer polyacetylene could be chemically doped to produce a new highly conducting form of matter. Your research group carried out the first experiments to demonstrate that doping polyacetylene produces a novel quantum state of matter in which the charge and spins of doped electrons dissociate and move independently.
After joining the faculty at the University of California at Santa Barbara, you served as the Director of its Institute for Polymeric and Organic Solids and later founded a company, UNIAX, developing a new family of devices based on the unique properties of conducting polymers, and bringing them to the marketplace.
You have been a mentor and a friend to generations of students and postdoctoral associates who now continue their exploration of new phenomena in the field of conducting polymers.
Your accomplishments have been celebrated with many fellowships, honors and awards including, the Oliver Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society, the Balzan Prize, and you share the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Hideki Shirakawa and Alan MacDiarmid.
In recognition of your discovery of conducting polymers and your leadership in the development of new technologies based on these materials, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania are proud to present you the University's Medal for Distinguished Achievement.
Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 33, May 8, 2001