John Rogers, 32
Lucent Technologies' Bell Laboratories
Silicon and related inorganic compounds are the bedrock of microelectronics. They’re great for speeding electrons in computers, and they’re increasingly used as building blocks for tiny sensors and other micromachines. But these inorganic materials are brittle and fragile and are typically formed on perfectly flat surfaces. It would open up remarkable technological vistas if integrated circuits could be made directly on a curved surface or out of flexible materials. John Rogers, a physical chemist, is hoping to make this vision real. Rogers has developed a series of novel fabrication techniques to make transistors from organic polymers, and integrated circuits on curved surfaces. The results are piling up: plastic transistors with features 100 nanometers across--half the size of those in a state-of-the-art semiconductor chip--and an optical fiber whose curved surface has been tattooed with microelectronics that can be used to control the fiber’s optical properties. The new transistors could be utilized in a flexible computer display consisting of a thin sheet of plastic.
William Brinkman, a VP at Bell Labs, describes Rogers as "broadly interested and driven by scientific curiosity, yet always keeping an eye on possible technological applications."