Electronics - Energy - Environment - Manufacturing

Hall of Fame Highlight: Olle Inganäs

Professor Olle Inganäs shares what inspires him, his approach to research, and his love for the outdoors.

Image Credit: Magnus Bergström; courtesy of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation

Look around the breathtaking Swedish wilderness and you might see one familiar face skiing, skating, swimming, sailing, biking, or hiking: Professor Olle Inganäs. The natural environment has forever been an inspiration to the Swedish professor of biomolecular and organic electronics, who is most comfortable when he is surrounded by the tranquility of the forests, water, and blue skies.

It will come as no surprise then that Prof. Inganäs’ research focuses on sustainable solutions to society’s most pressing needs, mainly, the global energy demand. Taking inspiration from nature and biological systems, Prof. Inganäs’ research aims to set the flow of how solar energy is converted and stored.

A believer in avoiding mainstream research, Prof. Inganäs advises all new researchers to “avoid bandwagons” and instead suggests to “contribute [a] more distinct voice at the periphery [of their field]”.

Prof. Inganäs clearly listens to his own advice. As an inspiring researcher and respected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Inganäs currently researches the interfaces between electronic polymers and biological materials and systems, as well as at how ion channels in living biomembranes can be wired to electrodes, using electronic polymers as go-betweens. His hope is to create a new mode of interrogation of neural activity.

But it is not just his own research that inspires him. With a general interest in the history of science, Prof. Inganäs accredits the likes of John von Neumann and Richard Feynmann for influencing his career; Alan Heeger for providing inspiration in his fields of science; and Marcus Aurelius, Blaise Pascal, and Karl Popper for influencing his thinking. He also recognizes his previous supervisor, Ingemar Lundström, as an influence, who showed him how to work creatively in science.

With a view to the future, Prof. Inganäs says he would like to see “a self-assembled, solid-state, optoelectronic machine reaching the Carnot limits for electromagnetic energy conversion” and “novel mechanisms of rectification that can be applied to couple electromagnetic fields to energy supply”.

For now though, the rapidly growing library of acceptor materials for organic photovoltaic devices continues to interest Prof. Inganäs. If you would like to learn more about what has been inspiring Prof. Inganäs for over 30 years in the field of organic photovoltaics, check out his article in the Advanced Materials Hall of Fame.

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