ALD21: Professor Vivian Wing-Wah Yam, 任詠華, Chemist

Vivian Wing-Wah Yam

Professor Vivian Wing-Wah Yam, 任詠華

Professor Vivian Wing-Wah Yam is a chemist whose work on brighter and more efficient organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) has led to the development of more efficient displays for mobile phones and laptops. These OLEDs can be deposited on a variety of materials, including clear plastic and glass, leading to better car headlights and larger flat screen TVs.

Yam’s aim is to reduce the amount of energy used in lighting by developing much more efficient lights and displays. Her research focuses on creating new photoactive materials by combining metal atoms with organic molecules that can absorb or emit light at a range of wavelengths and efficiencies.

Photoactive materials with tunable absorption and emission colours and other properties may lead to the development of materials that can more efficiently store solar energy, improving photovoltaics and solar fuels, and improving OLED displays and white organic light-emitting diodes (WOLEDs) for solid state lighting.

Other uses for these photoactive materials include harvesting sunlight for the photocatalysis of water to produce hydrogen gas, sensing biological molecules such as the amyloids found in Alzheimer’s disease, or even developing new binary optical memory for digital data storage.

In 2001, she became the youngest member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and in 2011 she became a L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science laureate. This year, she was a recipient of the 2022 American Chemical Society (ACS) National Award, The Josef Michl ACS Award in Photochemistry.

She is currently working on developing OLEDs with cheaper, more abundant metals such as nickel. She’s also investigating organic resistive memory which relies on molecules that don’t conduct electricity at low voltages, but can conduct at high voltages thus creating a binary resistive memory.

You can follow her work here:

Twitter: @VivianYam1

Further reading

Posted in Ada Lovelace Day 2021.