Ifor David William Samuel – director of the Organic Semiconductor Centre, University of St Andrews, Scotland. Associate editor of Journal of Photonics for Energy, and Synthetic Metals. Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, SPIE, the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry. In 2017 he won the Faraday Division Chemical Dynamics Award for his pioneering studies on the energy dynamics in organic semiconductors.
Professor Samuel studied for both his MA and PhD in Physics at Cambridge where he developed his fascination with conjugated polymers. After finishing his PhD he moved to Paris and worked with France Telecom for two years, investigating the non-linear optical properties of organic materials. Then he returned to Cambridge for a year, received a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and took up a position at the University of Durham until August 2000 when he moved to St Andrews. In 2001 he started the Organic Semiconductor Centre to encourage collaboration between physicists and chemists in developing the next generation of organic semiconductors and the wider field of organic electronics.
His polymer optoelectronics group has particular expertise in photophysics including time resolved luminescence from femtosecond to microsecond timescales and its application to the development of advanced materials such as dendrimers and star-shaped truxenes. In addition, he is exploring emerging applications of organic semiconductors, such as explosive sensing and skin cancer treatment. The work of the centre has been recognised through awards such as the Beilby Medal (Insitute of Materials, Royal Society of Chemistry and Society of the Chemical Industry), the Ben Sturgeon Award (Society for Information Display) and the academic R&D award (from idtechex at Printed Electronics USA).
Most polymers, or plastics, are electrical insulators. However, there is one class of polymers, known as ‘conjugated’ polymers which can conduct electricity. These materials are semiconductors, and open new directions in optoelectronics. They combine novel semiconducting electronic properties with the processing flexibility of polymers. When a voltage is applied to them, they emit light, providing an important new display technology that could give flat and even flexible displays. Semiconducting polymers can be used to make field effect transistors, solar cells, and even lasers. In the polymer optoelectronics group, they seek to understand the physics of these remarkable materials and devices, with the aim of improving them. The research has both fundamental and applied aspects, and the main activities are: – optical amplifiers – wavelength scale microstructure – new materials – charge transport in LEDs – understanding the light emission process. He is also researching fluorescence and its applications in medicine and biology.
Professor Samuel is also co-chair of the Organic Photonics and Electronics symposium at the annual Optics and Photonics meeting in San Diego and on the program committees for several SPIE conferences.