Serendipity as a Force in Physics
Discoveries of the very unexpected do keep happening in physics - even in areas previously thought to be settled and classical. Despite the stifling
overload of published research and generally over-busy active fields of research, carefully chosen experiments that bring new elements from outside the field can and do reveal surprises.
What are the best steps to follow? When is it wise to depart from the mainstream, or pick up techniques and technologies from outside 'physics'?
I will select examples from my own work (the development of semiconductor physics based on carbon-based molecular or polymeric materials) and from the
field of superconductivity.
Professor Sir Richard Friend, FRS, FREng
Richard Friend has been a member of the academic staff in the Department of Physics, University of Cambridge, since 1980, where he is the Cavendish Professor of Physics. He pioneered the study of organic polymers
as semiconductors, and his research group has demonstrated that these materials can be used in wide range of semiconductor devices, including
light-emitting diodes and transistors. He has been active in the process of technology transfer of this research to development for products. He co-founded Cambridge Display Technology Ltd in 1992 to develop
light-emitting diode displays, and Plastic Logic Ltd in 2000, to develop polymer transistor circuits, and these are now being developed as flexible
active-matrix backplanes for e-paper displays. He is currently working on the use of polymer and related materials for thin-film solar cells.