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Nobel prize recognizes future for plastics

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5:00pm, February 3, 2004

This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to three researchers for the discovery and development of plastics that conduct electricity as metals and semiconductors do. Their work, which began with a serendipitous discovery a quarter century ago, has opened a new world of applications for plastics.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the prize to Alan J. Heeger of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Alan G. MacDiarmid of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and Hideki Shirakawa of the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

Their legacy of conductive polymers now affects a range of applications and ongoing development, including antistatic materials, antirust coatings, batteries, and so-called smart windows that turn dark in sunlight. Researchers are also developing semiconductive polymers for use in light-emitting diodes, solar cells, lasers, and mobile-telephone displays.

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