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Wednesday, December 6, 2023


A brighter future

Leading a laboratory of mostly graduate chemistry students, associate professor Rigoberto Advincula is in the midst of research to brighten computer and cell phone screens using polymers.

Advincula’s focus is to replace current energy supplies with new materials for better displays on hand-held devices.

"Basically, because my research applies to this material, we wanted to apply this material in order to make a difference in energy conversion materials," Advincula said.

"(The material) can apply to bright emitting displays for example, replacing the display in your cell phone," he said. "It can make a difference in terms of energy sources in terms of consumer electronics."

According to his research, portable electronics can be more easily read in different lighting conditions. Cell phones will be brighter in sunlight, Advincula said.

The research may also help develop lower cost materials as they harness solar energy and the thin films being made require less material to produce and are easier for devices to process.

"What I’m doing in many other groups is designing polymers for organic materials to replace because they will be cheaper to manufacture," Advincula said. "They will have higher efficiency (and) they will be flexible, meaning they will not be flat panel types of devices."

In his 25th appearance at the American Chemical Society, Advincula is one of six UH professors who will be presenting the findings of his current research later this month in Boston, MA.

The laboratory, currently made up of both graduate and undergraduate students, develops thin materials that are advancing the technological uses of polymers.

DNA is composed of polymers, a mass of molecules made up of individual units that are connected by chemical bonds.

"We are creating new materials in the lab," chemistry graduate student Lalithya Jayarathna said.

Jayarathna, a student of Advincula, is researching polymers as a way to understand nanotechnology.

Polymer research also encompasses security concerns, as detectors are developed for airport security or military information. Chemical detectors utilized by airport security can determine if passengers are smuggling nerve agents.

Advincula has been researching polymer properties for approximately 5 years to develop hybrid materials for electrical hand held devices with research funds granted by the National Science Foundation and the Welch Foundation of Texas.

Advincula’s past research has caught the attention of industry researchers abroad, such as Japan, and has led to research cooperative efforts with UH.

"They usually find my research or hear me give a talk and then they approach about my work and they find it interesting," Advincula said.

"They like to collaborate or they have a specific problem they want me to solve, then they invite me to participate in the project."

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