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2023 Nevill Mott Medal and Prize

Professor Ji-Seon Kim for outstanding contributions to the materials physics of molecular semiconductor devices, including the pioneering integration of spectroscopy and simulation to elucidate the key processes determining device performance.

Professor Ji-Seon Kim is globally recognised for her research on the materials physics of organic optoelectronic devices. Organic electronics is of increasing global importance, with organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) now established as the leading display technology for mobile phones and increasingly for TVs, and growing academic and commercial interest in organic semiconductors for solar cells, photodetectors and biosensors. Kim’s research is particularly innovative in integrating vibrational and electronic spectroscopies with molecular and device level simulations to determine the key processes controlling device performance. For example, her innovative simulation work on display device outcoupling combined with device engineering provided a new methodology to determine the orientation of emitting molecules and device efficiency, which is now commonly used in the OLED community. More recently, her pioneering work integrating vibrational and electronic spectroscopies with molecular level density functional theory simulations has provided a new tool to determine molecular design rules for high-efficiency and high-stability organic photovoltaics and photodetectors, attracting huge research interest from academia, as well as long-term research investment from the technology industry, such as Samsung.

Kim has elucidated the critical factors that limit conjugated polymer-based display device performance, providing a new research direction for the organic electronics community. She has demonstrated molecular-scale engineering of the injection contacts, the emitting dipole orientation effect, the ultrathin interlayer concept and pre-conditioning of the electrode, all of which are commonly used in state-of-the-art OLEDs. Such pioneering work in organic semiconductor devices led Kim to be one of three members of the UK team awarded the first Descartes Prize of the European Commission for polymer LEDs for displays.

Kim has more recently established non-invasive structural spectroscopic techniques such as molecular vibrational spectroscopy as an advanced structural nanoprobe for molecular semiconductors. She has demonstrated its unique capability, when combined with molecular density functional theory simulations, to elucidate the key molecular design requirements that determine the performance of a wide range of optoelectronic molecular semiconductor devices. Combined with energetics spectroscopy, Kim has provided fundamental understanding of key molecular origins and structural dynamics that control organic solar cells, photodetectors and organic electrochemical transistor sensor performance. Her work on these topics in the last 10 years has been published in high impact journals and highly cited, leading to her current h-index of 71.