Zakya H. Kafafi
Head, Organic Optoelectronics Section,
Optical Sciences Division,
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington, DC, USA
Country of origin: Egypt
I was inspired by my high school chemistry teacher to become a chemist. From the first day in class he referred to me as "The Chemist." My love and fascination for chemistry grew with time and further education. Later on, my interest in science expanded, and I found myself equally enamored with photons and light. I chose research for my career because I like the freedom to innovate and solve challenging scientific problems.
Thanks to my research in chemistry and optics, I have traveled the world, visited many fascinating countries, and met many wonderful people and scientists. In the past my research in chemistry involved wither absorption or emission of light in the infrared (IR), visible, and ultraviolet (UV) spectral regions. For instance, I used UV or visible light to induce a chemical reaction between a metal atom or cluster, and an organic molecule through bond activation, and probe the reaction intermediates/products trapped in inert host matrices at cryogenic temperatures using IR spectroscopy. In more recent years, after joining the Optical Sciences Division at NRL, I worked in the general fields of organic nonlinear optics, organic light-emitting devices, and organic photovoltaics.
My present research focuses on developing materials and devices that will efficiently convert electrical energy into light or, vice versa, convert solar energy (light) into electricity. I hope that my work will have an impact on improving the quality of life for humankind, benefiting especially the poor and less fortunate people.