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Oral history interview with Alan J. Heeger

  • 2006-Mar-13
  • 2006-Mar-16

Alan J. Heeger begins the interview by describing his early decision to attend college and reasons behind changing his major from electrical engineering to mathematics and physics at the University of Nebraska. After obtaining his undergraduate degree, Heeger enrolled in Cornell University to pursue his interest in theoretical physics. After one year Heeger moved and attended University of California at Berkeley and switched his focus to experimental physics. Upon receiving his PhD under Alan Portis, Heeger took an assistant professorship at the University of Pennsylvania's physics department. At Penn Heeger's interests included spin-wave theory, metal physics, the Kondo problem, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) in magnetic materials. After achieving tenure, Heeger took a sabbatical at the University of Geneva to work on metal physics. Before leaving for Geneva, Heeger was introduced to TCNQ and shifted the focus of his research on that upon returning to the United States. Then in 1973, Heeger began investigating polysulfur nitride along with Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa that led to seminal publications on conducting polymers. After twenty years at the University of Pennsylvania, Heeger moved to the University of California at Santa Barbara's physics department, where he continued to conduct his research and collaboration with other scientists. Heeger concludes the interview by discussing thoughts of his role as a device physicist, and how he can best move technology development forward.

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