USC’s Mark Thompson Awarded IEEE Medal

USC Professor Mark E. Thompson, Ph.D., is the co-recipient of the 2017 IEEE Jun-ichi Nishizawa Medal for his innovative work leading to organic light-emitting diode displays (OLED), technology that can be found in everything from smartphones to flat-screen TVs. He will be presented with the medal at the annual IEEE Honors Ceremony in May 2017 in San Francisco.

The medal, one of the highest honors and signature awards by IEEE, is awarded annually for outstanding contributions to material and device science and technology, including practical application. Dr. Thompson is honored with Professor Ching W. Tang (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and University of Rochester) along with his long-time collaborator Professor Stephen Forrest (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) for their pioneering work on organic devices, leading to organic light-emitting diode displays.

The medal is one of the signature awards by IEEE (The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), a professional society dedicated to the advancement of electrical and computer sciences, engineering and related technical disciplines. Dr. Thompson holds the Ray R. Irani Chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corporation Chair in Chemistry and is a Professor of Chemistry at the USC Dana & David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering in the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

The USC Stevens Center for Innovation signed a patent license with Universal Display Corporation for this suite of OLED technology that now includes over 120 issued U.S. patents. Universal Display Corporation has advanced and commercialized OLED into an international business. This disruptive technology can be found in a number of bright, beautiful, thin displays, from Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones to LG’s OLED TVs.

An OLED can be manufactured using a variety of substrates, including glass, plastic or metal. It consists of several layers of organic materials sandwiched between two electrodes. As a result of the decay of the excited state, radiation is emitted that can be seen by the human eye. In active matrix OLED displays, such as the ones Samsung uses in its smartphones, colors are created by independently addressing red, green, and blue OLEDs within each pixel. As a result, OLEDs have a true contrast ratio, deep color saturation and wide color gamut and when manufactured on plastic, OLEDs can be rollable, foldable, bendable and conformable. OLED technology enables display and lighting makers the ability to dramatically alter the consumer and illumination landscape with differentiated, high-performing, energy-efficient, innovative products.

The IEEE Jun-ichi Nishizawa Medal was established in 2002 in honor of Jun-ichi Nishizawa’s lifetime of outstanding achievements ranging from fundamental semiconductor materials and devices through optical communication and power systems. Nishizawa is considered the “Father of Japanese Microelectronics,” and IEEE Spectrum recognized him as one of the geniuses of the 20th Century.

–by USC Stevens staff, published January 9, 2017. USC Photo by Philip Channing.