Author Profile: Natalie Stingelin

Associate Editor Natalie Stingelin talks to Russell Johnson about her research into organic electronics and dreaming to be a Jazz saxophonist

Natalie Stingelin Natalie Stingelin is a Reader at the Department of Materials, Imperial College London, UK, where she conducts research in the broad area of organic functional materials, including organic electronics, multifunctional inorganic/organic hybrids and smart, advanced optical systems based on organic matter. She has more than 70 papers, and in 2011 she received an ERC Young Investigator Award.

1. Which research projects are you working on at the moment?
Many of my activities are in the field of Organic Electronics, especially organic photovoltaics. Our focus thereby is to gain a better understanding of some of the fundamental process, including charge generation, charge separation and charge transport, with the key objective to establish relevant structure/processing/property interrelationships. In addition, I have started a few projects in the Organic Photonics area. For instance, we have developed a new hybrid system of a tunable refractive index and low optical loss in the visible wave-length regime. We are now working with industry to develop this material further to e.g. produce mirrors that reflect infrared irradiation. We target thereby applications towards versatile and widely applicable heat management structures for building, cars etc.

2. What motivated you to focus on organic electronics?
To be very honest, the decision to get into the field of Organic Electronics was pure coincidence. When I was looking for a postdoctoral position back in 2001, I was convinced that a process that I had developed during my PhD-studies can be adapted to produce organic field-effect transistors by embossing (a method that is used, e.g., to produce holograms for credit cards). My intuition was correct, and ever since my activities have often been inspired by procedures established in the bulk commodity polymer world which we then apply to conjugated organics, small molecular or polymeric.

3. What are the hot topics in materials chemistry at the moment?
There are recurrent themes, such as energy storage (e.g. batteries) and of course health care. Great technological progress has been realised in the Organic Electronics area, though I believe we still have to gain a deeper understanding of many electronic processes in this broad class of materials. This will keep us active for a while. In addition, I am intrigued with the up-coming field of Bioelectronics.

4. What current problem would you like to see science provide a solution to?
Reduction of our dependency on oil.

5. What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your career?
To be on a constant learning curve. In every project I gain new insights. An additional joy is to see younger colleagues to grow in their research, start their own independent research career and have fun doing so.

6. What’s the secret to being a successful scientist?
I think to be curious, stubborn and very self-critical.

7. Which scientist past or present do you most admire?
Prof. Paul Smith, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Paul is one of the pioneers in the field of high strength fibres and his research activities have led to seminal contributions in the broad field of polymer science, including the development of (i) gel-spinning for the fabrication of ultra-high strength, ultra-high-molecular weight polyethylene fibres – the world’s strongest fiber™; (ii) a solution fabrication route for polyaniline based on the counter-ion induced processibility of this interesting material (leading to the high-tech UNIAX Corporation, now DuPont Displays), (iii) a method allowingmelt-processing of poly(tetrafluoroethylene) – a material that was believed to be intractable (sold as Moldflon™); (iv) the design of novel nucleation agents for the bulk commodity polymer polypropylene making this material even more attractive for a broad range of technological applications (commercialised as IRGACLEAR® XT 386); (v) the introduction of a rationale for designing wear-resistant polyethylenes which will have major implications for use of this material in biomedical products; etc., etc., etc.

8. If you weren’t a scientist, what would you be?
My dream would be to be Jazz saxophonist or painter – realistically, though, I rather be a Jazz bar owner.

If you’d like to learn more about research in the Stingelin lab you can read some of their latest articles below of visit the group webpages.

Solution-processed small molecule transistors with low operating voltages and high grain-boundary anisotropy
Liyang Yu, Xiaoran Li, Jeremy Smith, Steven Tierney, Richard Sweeney, B. K. Charlotte Kjellander, Gerwin H. Gelinck, Thomas D. Anthopoulos and Natalie Stingelin, J. Mater. Chem., 2012, 22, 9458-9461

A flexible n-type organic semiconductor for optoelectronics
Ke Gui, Karyn Mutkins, Paul E. Schwenn, Karsten B. Krueger, Almantas Pivrikas, Pascal Wolfer, Natalie Stingelin, Paul L. Burn and Paul Meredith, J. Mater. Chem., 2012, 22, 1800-1806

Photo-induced molecular alignment of trisazobenzene derivatives
Pascal Wolfer, Hubert Audorff, Klaus Kreger, Lothar Kador, Hans-Werner Schmidt, Natalie Stingelin and Paul Smith, J. Mater. Chem., 2011, 21, 4339-4345

Ink-jet printed p-type polymer electronics based on liquid-crystalline polymer semiconductors
Mohammed Baklar, Paul H. Wöbkenberg, David Sparrowe, Magda Gonçalves, Iain McCulloch, Martin Heeney, Thomas Anthopoulos and Natalie Stingelin, J. Mater. Chem., 2010, 20, 1927-1931

Pronounced photochromism of titanium oxide hydrates (hydrous TiO2)
Manuela Russo ,  Stephen E. J. Rigby ,  Walter Caseri and Natalie Stingelin, J. Mater. Chem., 2010, 20, 1348-1356

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