News FocusProfile: John Rogers

Farewell to Flatland

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Science  09 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5988, pp. 138-139
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5988.138

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In the summer of 2000, at age 33, John Rogers was named as one of the youngest department managers ever at the famed invention shop, Bell Laboratories. But within months, he was caught in the middle of what he calls "a complete disaster." Shortly after Rogers took the helm of his department, a Bell Labs postdoc and physicist named Jan Hendrik Schön joined the lab's full-time staff. In a series of high-profile papers, Schön and Bell Labs colleagues reported a steady stream of advances illuminating the way electric charges move through organic crystals, each advance more dramatic than the last. Then in the autumn of 2002, Schön was found to have faked experimental results in at least 17 published papers (including six in Science). But Rogers hasn't just survived the scandal—he has thrived. Running a lab with some 40 students and postdocs and working with colleagues and collaborators around the world, Rogers has pioneered a new approach to patterning conventional flat, rigid semiconductors, such as silicon, atop lightweight, flexible surfaces of nearly any type and shape. That advance is ushering in a new era of lighting, medical equipment, and solar cells that are all quickly moving to commercialization and garnering Rogers plenty of attention. Last fall, Rogers won a MacArthur Fellowship, commonly called a genius grant. And others are offering praise as well.