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Semiconducting and Metallic Polymers: The Fourth Generation of Polymeric Materials

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 May 2012

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Prior to receiving the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2000 for my work in polymers, polymer science had been recognized three times. The first Nobel Prize in chemistry for polymer science was awarded in 1953 to Hermann Staudinger, for his pioneering work in the 1920s. At that time, the concept of macromolecules was new, and his ideas were controversial. However, the data prevailed, and he was awarded the Prize “for his discoveries in the field of macromolecular chemistry.” The next major event in polymer science was the discovery and invention of nylon by Wallace Carothers at the Dupont Company in 1935. Although Carothers died as a young man, his discoveries created an industry. I have little doubt that his work was deserving of a Nobel Prize and probably would have been awarded. The next related Prize went to Karl Ziegler and Giulio Natta in 1963 for their work on polymer synthesis in the 1950s. The Ziegler–Natta catalysts made possible the large-scale production of polymers such as polypropylene. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry “for their discoveries in the field of chemistry and technology of high polymers.” In 1974, the Prize for chemistry went to Paul J. Flory, who was a giant in this field. He was awarded the Nobel “for his fundamental achievements, both theoretical and experimental, in the physical chemistry of macromolecules.”

Research Article
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2001

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