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New Materials

Harnessing energy from light is the focus of research that seeks to develop materials with the potential to advance the flow of information and improve energy efficiency.

The horizon for technology is bright with the promise of moving information and processes at ever faster speeds, over longer distances and with greater energy efficiency. One of the key areas for fulfilling this potential is in the interplay of light and electronics, which is leading to the development of new materials for such things as energy efficient lighting, displays, solar cells, electronic sensors and energy storage devices. HKU has an active and successful team working in this field, with a particular focus on optoelectronics, photonic and sensory functions, printable electronics, photovoltaics, and other electronic applications.

The team is seeking to contribute not only to industrial applications, but also to the fundamental understanding of the underlying principles and basic sciences of the materials being investigated. Work currently is focused on developing high-performance, patentable materials in the following areas:

  • Organic light emitting diodes, polymer light emitting devices and organic thin film transistors that can have a huge market potential.
  • Printable electronics, which hold promise for lowering manufacturing costs, especially for large-area displays.
  • Devices that run on renewable energy, including organic photovoltaic devices, dye-sensitised solar cells and hybrid solar cells.
  • Inorganic and carbon-based nanostructured materials that can provide an efficient way to capture and store energy.

The interdisciplinary team comes from the Faculties of Science and Engineering and includes expertise in synthetic chemistry, physics, materials science, and device and processing engineering. Its members hold major awards including the L'Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science Award, RSC Centenary Medals and State Natural Science Awards.

As it moves forward, the SRT hopes to establish HKU as an internationally eminent research centre in new materials with functional properties.

Related major work at the University includes the 'Institute of Molecular Functional Materials' (Areas of Excellence project); 'Challenges in Organic Photo-Voltaics and Light Emitting Diodes - A Concerted Multi-Disciplinary and Multi-Institutional Effort' (Theme-based Research Scheme project); and 'Excited States of Metal Complexes' (project under the 973 programme).

New Materials

Our research is strongly related to environmental concerns as it is about better utilising the energy we have, as well as trying to understand how we can make use of light energy to do different types of conversion.

Professor V.W.W. Yam, Convenor



Professor V.W.W. Yam (Chemistry)


Professor P.T. Lai (Electrical & Electronic Engineering)