… and a Nobel medal in gold

Although the polyacetylene film shone like silver, it was not an electrical conductor. Could it perhaps be modified in some way? In the mid-1970s the three Laureates began co-operating to investigate this and results were quick to come. When they caused the films to react with iodine vapour, the conductivity increased by as much as ten million times – a discovery that was eventually to give them a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Oxidation with iodine causes the electrons to be jerked out of the polymer, leaving “holes” in the form of positive charges that can move along the chain.

 

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