Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering Division

2010 ACS Applied Polymer Science Award in Honor of Andrew J. Lovinger


Andrew J. Lovinger, winner of the 2010 American Chemical Society Award in Applied Polymer Science, is recognized "for his research contributions, particularly through structure-property elucidation, to the development of polymeric materials for electronic and other technological applications".

Andy Lovinger is currently the Polymers Program Director in the Division of Materials Research of the National Science Foundation, where he has served since 1995. He spent most of his career (1977-1995) at Bell Laboratories, where he was Distinguished Member of Technical Staff and Head of the Polymer Chemistry Research Department (1985-1994). Since moving to NSF in 1995 he continued part-time research at Bell Labs through 2007 when the parent Company (Alcatel-Lucent) discontinued all research in chemistry and materials. He started at Bell Labs in 1977 right after receiving his doctorate in chemical engineering and applied chemistry from Columbia University. His BS and MS degrees are also in chemical engineering and applied chemistry from Columbia.

Lovinger's research has been focused on discovering and controlling the structure, crystallization, morphology, and phase transitions of important polymeric materials and correlating these with properties aimed at both fundamental understanding and optimized performance. His research has been recognized by a number of other major distinctions, including election to the National Academy of Engineering (2004), the Polymer Physics Prize of the American Physical Society (2003), Fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1988), and the Dillon Medal of the American Physical Society (1985).

His research is very widely cited. According to the ISI Web of Knowledge (1985-2009) he has an h-index of 54 (meaning that 54 of his publications have been cited at least 54 times). More than 30 of his papers since 1985 have been cited over 100 times each (8 of these more than 200 times each).

Lovinger's most recent research has been in the area of "plastic electronics" where he provided the first structural and morphological evidence for their substrate orientations, explained their charge transport properties on that basis, and contributed to the tremendous growth in "electronic paper" applications. In 1996, together with Z. Bao and A. Dodabalapur, they published the first report on regioregular poly(3-hexyl thiophene) (P3HT) and its molecular orientation on device substrates [Appl. Phys. Lett. 1996, 69, 4108]. This paper has been cited over 700 times and regioregular poly(3-hexyl thiophene) is now the major workhorse of polymeric semiconductors for "plastic electronics". His research also provided the first visualization of conducting pathways in one such organic semiconductor. With Z. Bao and H. E. Katz they developed and studied many families of organic semiconductors, both p-type and n-type. Two highly promising soluble and air-stable n-type organic semiconductors with high electron mobility were reported in 1998 and 2000 and have jointly garnered over 700 citations [JACS 1998, 120, 207 and Nature 2000,404, 6777].

A second major research area that is closely associated with Lovinger is the area of ferroelectric polymers ("smart materials") where he made some of the most seminal contributions and discovered new phenomena. His work on poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) with T. Furukawa, G. T. Davis, and M. G. Broadhurst proved that this was the first ferroelectric polymer and demonstrated its Curie transition. He provided the first morphological studies of this polymer and explained its phase transformations. He also discovered a number of unprecedented phenomena. One of these was ferroelectric-to-paraelectric transformations in PVDF copolymers induced not by heating but by electron irradiation [Macromolecules 1985, 18, 910]. This new effect of electron irradiation was used by subsequent researchers to demonstrate "giant electrostriction" in this polymer. Other phenomena he discovered that have not been seen in any other materials so far are "backwards-growing" solid-state polymorphic transformations [Polymer 1980, 21, 1317] and inhomogeneous thermal degradation based on crystallographic phase [Macromolecules 1980, 13, 989]. Lovinger also wrote the definitive reviews on ferroelectric polymers: His article in Science 1983, 220, 1115 [over 300 citations] and his book chapter in Developments in Crystalline Polymers (D. C. Bassett, Editor), Applied Science Publishers 1982 [over 400 citations] still continue to be quoted extensively.

A third major field that Lovinger opened up in collaboration with B. Lotz was the solid-state structure and properties of syndiotactic polypropylene. They discovered that the decades-long universally accepted crystal structure dating from the classic studies of Natta and Corradini was inapplicable, demonstrated the correct structure, discovered that it involves fully antichiral chain packing, interpreted this on steric reasons, and explained the existence and type of structural disorder [Macromolecules 1988, 21, 2375 and Macromolecules 1993, 26, 3494]. These papers have been cited about 200 times each. Lovinger and Lotz also produced the first regular crystals of this polymer, elucidated their morphology, and explained their highly anisotropic thermal expansion which leads to extensive transverse fractures.

Another major area that has grown primarily as a result of Lovinger's contributions involves his development of the directional solidification technique. With C. C. Gryte he showed that essentially infinitely long and unidirectionally oriented spherulites of crystalline polymers can be grown by crystallization within an imposed sharp temperature gradient [Macromolecules 1976, 9, 247]. Moreover, through this technique he was able to produce for the first time limitless oriented films of polymorphic forms that had up to then been inaccessible because of their low nucleation compared to the dominant polymorph. He demonstrated this through the creation of large films of directionally solidified beta-phase isotactic polypropylene in a classic paper [J. Polym. Sci.-Polym. Phys. Ed. 1977, 15, 641] that has over 200 citations.

Other areas in which Andy Lovinger has contributed through many publications are silicon-backbone polymers (polysilanes), high-temperature and high-strength polymers (e.g., PEEK and PPS), liquid-crystalline polymers, and epitaxial effects.

At NSF Andy is in charge of the Polymers Program. For three years he also served as Senior Staff Scientist in the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and he frequently serves as Acting Director of the Division of Materials Research. He has contributed to and managed many NSF-wide activities, including leading the current Solar Energy Initiative of the Divisions of Chemistry, Materials Research, and Mathematical Sciences. In the Polymers Program one of his top priorities has been to increase the participation of new and young faculty and underrepresented groups. His accomplishments were recognized by the 2006 NSF Director's Equal Opportunity Achievement Award "for his proactive efforts to enhance diversity in his Program, and for his continuous attention to diversity issues and education in the community with outstanding results." Other top NSF awards he has received are for Program Management Excellence (2000), for Superior Accomplishment (2003), for Collaborative Integration (2005 and 2009), and the Meritorious Service Award (2009).

Andy has also been serving the American Chemical Society as Associate Editor of Macromolecules since 1988 (and is currently the longest-standing editor). He is also on the Editorial Advisory Boards of J. Macromol. Sci. Phys., J. Polym. Sci. Phys., and Polymer. He is very active in outreach activities and gives lectures about polymers to community groups, high schools, and middle schools.


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