Martin Pope

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Martin Pope
Martin Pope.jpg
Dr. Martin Pope (1978)
Born (1918-08-22) August 22, 1918 (age 103)
OccupationPhysical chemist
(m. 1946; died 2015)

Martin Pope (born August 22, 1918) is an American physical chemist and professor emeritus at New York University.

His discoveries of ohmic contacts and research in the fields of organic insulators and semiconductors led to techniques enabling organic semiconductors to carry relatively large currents, and to convert electricity into light and vice versa. These discoveries have had application in electrophotography, organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), photovoltaic cells, biological sensors, transistors, molecular electronics and batteries.

For his work, Dr. Pope was awarded the Davy Medal from the Royal Society in 2006.


Martin Pope was born in 1918 to Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine. The second of four sons, Pope grew up on New York's Lower East Side. He attended the City College of New York and graduated with a bachelor's in chemistry in 1939.

While at CCNY, Pope assisted in nuclear experiments at Columbia University and met Fermi, Schwinger, Dunning and other key figures in the development of nuclear fission. After graduation, he served in the Army Air Force in the Pacific, where he reached the rank of first lieutenant. After the war, Pope returned home and found work at Balco Research Laboratories, where he received two patents for thin film inventions. He received his Ph.D. in 1950 from the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute.

He joined the faculty of New York University in 1956 as a researcher in the Radiation and Solid State Physics Lab (RSSL). In 1988, he retired as professor of chemistry and director of the RSSL.

Since 1988, Pope has been professor emeritus, physical chemistry at NYU. He is still active in research, and most recently published papers in 2003 and 2004.

Pope married Lillie Pope, an educational psychologist and author, in 1946. She died in 2015.


Career Achievements

  • 1939: B.S. in physical chemistry, CCNY.
  • 1942: Scientist, Radiation Laboratory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
  • 1942-1945: Private, first lieutenant, Pacific Theater, U.S. Armed Forces.
  • 1946-1947: Research scientist, Balco Research Laboratory.
  • 1950: Ph.D., Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute.
  • 1951-56: Technical director, Balco Research Laboratory.
  • 1978: Scientific guest of state and visiting professor, People's Republic of China.
  • 1981: Scientific guest of state and visiting professor, Soviet Union.
  • 1981: Visiting professor, University of Alexandria, Egypt.

Career at New York University

  • 1956-1960: Senior research scientist, Radiation and Solid State Physics Lab (RSSL).
  • 1960-1965: Research associate professor, RSSL.
  • 1965-1968: Associate professor, chemistry.
  • 1968-1988: Professor, chemistry. From 1968-1983, Pope served as co-director of the RSSL. From 1983-1988, he was director of the RSSL.
  • 1988–present: Professor emeritus, physical chemistry.

Scientific Research and Discoveries[edit]

  • Dark charge injecting (ohmic) contacts -- the basis of operation of essentially every organic semiconductor.
  • Sensitized photoinjection -- demonstrated that the processes of carrier generation and carrier transport could be separated and is used in modern electrophotography and molecularly doped polymers. It is also the basis of Dye-Sensitized Excitonic Solar Cells.
  • Photovoltaic effect using identical electrodes -- discovery of the exciton-induced photovoltaic effect makes possible high photovoltages.
  • In Electrochemistry -- discovery of dark charge injection using electrolyte electrodes created a new field of electrochemistry, based on organic electrodes. This has made biosensors possible.
  • Electroluminescence in organic semiconductors -- opened a field of semiconductors that has led to the development of the modern organic light-emitting diodes (OLED).
  • Autoionization -- This discovery and that of the closely related charge transfer process, is the presently accepted mechanism for intrinsic photocarrier generation.
  • Initial (geminate) recombination -- provided the presently accepted explanation for the small photoionization efficiency in low dielectric constant organic molecular semiconductors. (Discovered concurrently by Kepler and Coppage).
  • Two-quantum external photoelectric effect in organic crystals
  • Exciton charge transfer, fission and caging
  • Photophoretic spectroscopy
  • Thin films -- patents for the development of low temperature coefficient resistive and capacitive film, electrically conducting thin film polymeric hygrometer and thin film hermetically sealed resistors.

Publications, Awards[edit]

  • with Charles E. Swenberg: Electronic Processes in Organic Crystals (1982; Oxford University Press)
  • Originated the conference: "Electronic Processes in Organic Materials", Gordon Research Conferences.
  • International conference: "Electronic Processes in the Organic Condensed Phase: a Symposium in Honor of Professor Martin Pope", held at NYU in 1988.
  • with Charles E. Swenberg: Electronic Processes in Organic Crystals and Polymers (1992; Oxford University Press)
  • Townsend Harris Medal, 1996
  • International conference: "Symposium on Electronic Processes in Organic Condensed Matter in Honor of the Eightieth Birthday of Professor Martin Pope," held at Rochester University, 1998.
  • Royal Society of UK 2006 Davy Medal, awarded for "his pioneering work in the field of molecular semiconductors".

External links[edit]