----- Original Message -----From: Peter H ProctorSent: Wednesday, October 23, 2002 6:26 PMSubject: Very Early Organic Semiconductor Device
Dear Ms Brisco;
As a followup to our converstion of last week: We wish to either donate or place on permanent loan to the Smithsonian the following item, for the purpose of exibition:
Melanin Bistable Switch--- A very early organic semiconductor electronic device.
This device was constructed at the Physics Department of the University of Texas MD Anderson Hospital in the Fall of 1973. It was then used in a series of experiments published in 1974 in the Journal Science, titled "Amorphous Semiconductor Switching in Melanin ". This paper is posted online at www.drproctor.com/os/amorphous.htm .
About 1978, the device was moved by John McGinness to his home laboratory, where it was used for further experiments in the development of a battery using an organic semiconducting material. The apparartus remained there until June of 2002, when Dr McGinness gave it to me. Belatedly realizing its historical value, I have since kept it in my office under lock and key.
1) This is likely the first reported electronic device to use an organic semiconductor as the active element. In any case, it antedates the next report we can find of such a device by about 8 years.
2) The ON state of this switch has almost metallic conductivity, This antedates Shirawkawa et als Nobel-Prize-winning 1977 report of similar ( but passive ) high conductivity in another polyacetylene. So this device has basic science, as well as technological significance.
3) Melanin is a polyacetylene and vice versa. Technically, most, if not all, subsequent organic semiconductor devices also use some polyacetylene-derivative as the active element. So this device is their immediate ancestor .
I am attaching some photos of this device. The vial contains diethyamine-doped melanin. This is what we used for the original experiments, although vial is from 1977, still well-before anything similar. If you wish, we can donate this material, but will attempt to find an earlier sample.
Peter H. Proctor, PhD, MD