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Karl Leo nominated for the European Inventor Award 2021 in the "Lifetime Achievement" category

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Prof. Dr. Karl Leo (Photo: European Patent Office - EPO)

The European Patent Office (EPO) today announced that physics professor Karl Leo of Technische Universität Dresden has been nominated for the 2021 European Inventor Award as a finalist in the "Lifetime Achievement" category. Therewith, the EPO is honoring Leo's pioneering work in the field of organic semiconductors, which led to the development of high-efficiency organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), organic solar cells and organic transistors.

Professor Karl Leo, director of the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP) and founder of the Dresden Integrated Center for Applied Physics and Photonic Materials (IAPP) at TU Dresden, is one of three finalists nominated in the "Lifetime Achievement" category for the European Inventor Award 2021. This is an outstanding tribute to the 60-year-old exceptional scientist who, with a great deal of innovative spirit, perseverance and, not least, business acumen, has repeatedly managed to successfully commercialize his fundamental ideas in the field of organic semiconductor optics.

Karl Leo himself always emphasizes that his path was a team effort and that he was always supported by talented and motivated partners. First and foremost are his doctoral students Martin Pfeiffer and Jan Blochwitz, who in 1998, under Leo's guidance, produced the first organic semiconductor LED (OLED), which was much more efficient, sustainable and had a longer lifetime than its inorganic counterparts.

In 2001, Leo founded Novaled with Pfeiffer and Blochwitz to commercialize the OLED technologies and materials conceived at TU Dresden. In 2013, Novaled was acquired by Samsung and is hence considered one of the most successful German start-ups. Over the course of his career, Leo has co-founded numerous other spin-offs, including Heliatek GmbH, Senorics GmbH and other companies in the Silicon Saxony technology region.

The full impact of Leo's innovations has arrived in numerous products on the international market: OLEDs provide improved image brightness, color resolution and energy efficiency in the latest models of smartphones, television screens and other electronic devices. Organic solar cells have also been brought to market maturity.

Karl Leo has already been honored with numerous prizes for his outstanding achievements, including the Leibniz Prize (2002), the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy Prize (2002), the Manfred von Ardenne Prize (2006), the Future Prize of the German President (2011), the Technology Transfer Prize of the DPG (2016) and, just recently, the Jan Rajchmann Prize of the US Society for Information Display (SID).

On the question of whether he has thought about retiring after so many successes and a nomination for his Lifetime Achievement, he states: "No, I have never thought about retiring. I always need something to tinker around with, whether physics, engineering or whatsoever."

Further innovations and projects are already planned for the coming years: "On the one hand, we also want to bring our organic transistors into products, and on the other hand, we are working on providing our organic electronics with an interface to biological systems so that they can also be used sensibly directly on or even in humans. We just got approval for a first project in which we want to use biodegradable sensor technology for postoperative monitoring."

The European Inventor Award

The European Inventor Award was launched by the EPO in 2006 and is one of the most prestigious innovation awards in Europe. It highlights how creative thinking contributes to societal development, drives economic growth and improves our everyday lives. An independent jury consisting of international personalities from business, politics, science and research selects the finalists and winners. In total, the prize is awarded in five categories. For the first time in the history of the European Inventor Award, the 2021 ceremony will take place in an augmented reality format. No pre-registration is required for the digital event on 17 June 2021, starting at 7 p.m., so audiences from around the world can follow the journey of the fifteen finalists.

Watch the livestream on 17 June at:

Vote for the Popular Prize!

Starting today, 4 May 2021, the voting for the Popular Prize of the European Inventor Award is open. The public has the opportunity to vote online for their favorites from the 15 finalists. The winner will be announced in the live show on June 17. Join in and vote for Karl Leo!

Dedicated Popular Prize link:

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Philipp Nisster
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