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Plastic electronics: the coming revolution

Tuesday 15th May 2012 @ 19:00

Non-Member: £12.00 ; Staff: £5.00 ; Student: £3.00


Professor Donal Bradley, Lee-Lucas Chair of Experimental Physics, Imperial College London, Deputy Principal of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Director, Centre for Plastic Electronics

The nano-scale printing and coating of materials on a wide range of plastics has the potential to impact on multiple applications in energy, environment, consumer electronics and healthcare.

Rapid printing molecular electronic materials on to flexible plastics is creating a wide range of effective very low cost devices that will revolutionise displays, solar energy, solid-state lighting, imaging and sensing, medical diagnostics, photonics and communications.

Professor Donal Bradley and his team at Imperial College are using organic, carbon-based materials to construct the next generation of electronic devices. Their research combines the properties of plastics with the functionality of semiconductors to create innovative technologies at dramatically lower production costs. Professor Bradley’s experimental investigations have significantly advanced the understanding of the physics of conjugated polymers as semiconductors and helped to demonstrate their widespread application potential.

Plastic electronics can be printed on various substrates to create devices such as thin film transistors or resistors. Printed electronics is expected to facilitate widespread, very low-cost electronics for applications such as flexible displays, smart labels, decorative and animated posters, and active clothing.

The most important benefit of printing is low-cost volume fabrication. The lower cost enables use in more applications. An example is radio frequency identification, RFID-systems, which enable contactless identification in trade and transport. In some domains, such as light-emitting diodes printing does not impact performance. Printing on flexible substrates allows electronics to be placed on curved surfaces, for example, putting solar cells on vehicle roofs.

This plastic electronics technology has the potential for use in multiple applications including displays, solar energy, solid-state lighting, imaging and sensing, medical diagnostics, photonics and communications. In terms of consumer electronics, this means a wide range of devices can be developed, updated, or revolutionised – from flat screen televisions to e-book readers, from smart windows to printed circuit boards.

Do plastic electronics have the potential to change the world? What is the appeal of using printing processes to generate large scale electronics products and devices? What kind of applications can we envisage in the future which could change the way we live now?

Professor Donal Bradley, CBE, FRS, FRSA, is Lee-Lucas Professor of Experimental Physics at Imperial College London. He is director of the Centre for Plastic Electronics and since October 2011 a pro rector at the college.

Professor Bradley was a pupil at Wimbledon College. He studied as an undergraduate student (BSc Physics) at Imperial College between 1980 and 1983 and obtained a first class honours degree.


He received a PhD at Cambridge in 1987. (Bradley’s postgraduate research was undertaken in the Physics and Chemistry of Solids Group at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge and he received a PhD in 1987 for his thesis “Spectroscopic investigations of the processible conjugated polymers poly(p-phenylene vinylene) and poly(4,4'-diphenylene-diphenylvinylene) .)

He was elected a Fellow of Royal Society in 2004 and a fellow of the Institute of Physics in 2005.

He was appointed a CBE for his services to science in the 2009/2010 New Years Honours.

Professor Bradley's contributions to the field of molecular electronic materials and devices have led to wide-ranging publications that place him amongst the 1% most highly cited physicists in the world.

He is a co-inventor of conjugated polymer electroluminescence, co-founder of Cambridge Display Technology Ltd, co-founder and Director of Molecular Vision Ltd, member of C-Change (UK) LLP and Director of Solar Press Ltd with more than twenty patent families to his name.

Optionally followed by supper (this can be booked on the event booking form).
After the lecture a Friends' Table has been reserved at a local restaurant to entertain the speaker and for any of the audience who would like to join us to continue the evening's discussion. A two-course fixed price supper is served including wine, coffee and service charge.
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Venue: Lecture Theatre G16, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Imperial College Road SW7 2AZ

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