Widely known for his pioneering research in and the co-founding of the field of semiconducting and metallic polymers, Professor Alan J. Heeger is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2000), the Oliver E. Buckley Prize for Condensed Matter Physics, the Balzan Prize for the Science of New Materials, the Eni Italgas Prize for Energy and the Environment, the President’s Medal for Distinguished Achievement from the University of Pennsylvania, the Chancellor’s Medal from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and honorary doctorates from more than a dozen universities in the United States, Europe and Asia. He is a member of the National Academy of Science (USA), the National Academy of Engineering (USA) and a foreign member of the Korean Academy of Science.
Professor Alan Heeger grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Nebraska where he majored in Physics and Mathematics. He did graduate work at UC Berkeley where he completed his PhD in Physics in 1961.
His academic career began as Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in 1962. He was made Professor in 1967 and served at PENN as Director of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter and, subsequently, as Vice Provost for Research.
Professor Heeger moved to UC Santa Barbara in 1982 where he joined the Physics Department. He was a founding member of the Materials Department (in Engineering) and he was a founder and first Director of the Institute for Polymers and Organic Solids. He currently holds the Presidential Chair at UCSB where he serves as Professor of Physics and Professor of Materials.
Professor Heeger has more than 800 publications in scientific journals and holds approximately 50 patents. He founded UNIAX Corporation in 1990; UNIAX was acquired by DuPont in 2000. Prof. Heeger is a Venture Partner in NGen Partners, a materials-based venture capital firm in Santa Barbara. He is Chairman and Co-Founder of CBrite Inc. in Santa Barbara, a start-up that is focusing on opportunities for printing “plastic electronics”. He is Vice-Chairman and Co-Founder of CytomX, a biotechnology start-up with new technology that is relevant to a variety of problems in biotechnology. He is Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of Konarka Technologies; Konarka is focused on developing low-cost plastic solar cells comprising semiconducting polymers. The Konarka technology is based upon Professor Heeger’s science and subsequent patents.
His research group in the Center for Polymers and Organic Solids continues to focus on the science and technology of semiconducting and metallic polymers. Current interests also include biosensors for the detection of specific targeted sequences on DNA, the detection of specific proteins and the detection of biologically relevant small molecules.