Christine Luscombe wins DARPA Young Faculty Award to support research on organic polymers

Christine Luscombe, UW assistant professor of materials science and engineering, won a Young Faculty Award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to support her research on organic photovoltaic devices.

Luscombe, one of 39 researchers nationwide to win a Young Faculty Award in 2008, will receive $150,000 to support her research group, which is developing techniques to make semiconducting organic polymers. These polymers have promising applications in the fabrication of improved organic solar cells.

“We expect that our technology will radically enhance the performance of existing photovoltaic devices, as well as increase their lifetimes,” Luscombe said.

“The ultimate goal is to lay the foundation for the development of future generations of superior, energy harvesting devices that are flexible, cheap, efficient and easily manufactured.”

DARPA’s Young Faculty Award program, now in its second year, is designed to seek out ideas from non-tenured faculty in order to identify the next generation of researchers working in microsystems technology. The funded researchers will focus on concepts that are innovative, speculative and high-risk.

“This year’s Young Faculty Award competition produced more than 250 exciting ideas from the best and brightest young faculty in the United States,” said Thomas Kenny, DARPA’S program manager for the initiative. “The quality of these ideas and the talent of the applicant pool made this a valuable event for us, and we’re especially excited to work with the awardees in the next year and, hopefully, throughout their careers.”

DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office sponsors the Young Faculty Award program. The mission of the office is to exploit breakthroughs in materials, devices, circuits and mathematics to develop components that are more advanced than today’s leading-edge devices and that have revolutionary performance and functionality to enable new capabilities for the Department of Defense.

Luscombe received her master’s degree in 2000 and her doctorate in 2005 from the University of Cambridge. She joined the UW faculty in 2006 as an assistant professor. She won a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in early 2008 to support her research on semiconducting organic polymers.

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