JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Dr Andrew Holmes holds in his hands a tiny sample of a light-emitting plastic, which is emitting a gold glow. In this photomontage, he is surrounded by close-ups of the same plastics emitting green, blue and red glows - the 3 colours needed to make a colour TV image. Light-emitting plastics - such as polyphenylene vinylene (PPV) - are polymers which emit light when a voltage is set up across them. They were discovered in 1990 by Dr Richard Friend and Dr Donal Bradley of the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge, UK, and Dr Holmes of the Department of Chemistry. The plastics could be used in applications like LEDs (light-emitting devices) and thin-screen TVs.
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