Research areas in Zhenan Bao’s lab include synthesis of functional organic and polymer materials, organic electronic device design and fabrication, and applications development for organic electronics. The approach is multidisciplinary, involving concepts and expertise from chemistry, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, materials science and engineering, physics, and electrical engineering. The devices of current interest are organic and carbon nanotube thin film transistors, organic photovoltaic cells, chemical/biological sensors and molecular switches. These devices are used as characterization tools for fundamental charge transport and photophysics studies. They are also of practical interest for nano-scale electronics, alternative energy sources, low cost and large area flexible plastic circuits, displays, and disposable sensors.
Professor Bao’s recent research has included development of an ultrasensitive, highly flexible, electronic sensor that can feel a touch as light as an alighting fly. Manufactured in large sheets, the sensors could be used in artificial electronic skin for prosthetic limbs, robots, touch-screen displays, automobile safety and a range of medical applications.