Smart plastics for next generation electronics, optics and architecture

In fifty years, plastics have transformed our lives. Polymers are used in everything from clothing to aircraft components. Plastics might be everywhere, but their potential has only just started to be tapped. Today, we can foresee plastics that will conduct electricity, bend light and even manipulate heat. Heat-reflective plastics promise inexpensive yet perfectly transparent glazing for energy-efficient buildings. Light-guiding plastic "plumbing" will allow sunlight and heat to be routed to where it is most needed, whether in construction or agricultural applications. These innovations can build on our ability to manufacture plastic products at the largest scales, while offering novel, energy-saving applications.

I'm curious about..."how well-known materials and manufacturing techniques can be combined in new ways to generate novel plastics with amazing functional properties"Natalie Stingelin


Prof Natalie Stingelin joined the Department of Materials in 2009. Prior to moving to Imperial College, Natalie held research positions at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, and Philips Research, Eindhoven, as well as the Queen Mary University of London. She obtained her degree in 1997 from ETH Zurich, and her PhD in 2001, for which she was awarded the ETH Medal.


Natalie’s research interests encompass the broad field of organic functional materials and include the development of:

  • organic electronics
  • multifunctional organic-inorganic hybrids
  • smart, advanced optical systems based on organic materials
  • bioelectronics

Foresight and futures work

London Diplomatic Science Club
Cool Plastics for a Greener World @ Fresh Water Contamination Expo 2016
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016
The Future of Materials: The Imperial College London IdeasLab

Profile Credits

Kit Huckvale, Pete Papathanasiou