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Empowered: Lynn Loo on enhancing smart windows, building partnerships, and the humane drive behind engineering

July 19, 2018

Just over 15 years ago, Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo invented nanotransfer printing, a method of transferring nanoscale features onto organic electronics and plastic circuits. A critical success as a scientific innovation, nanotransfer printing has contributed to the fabrication of devices as varied as capacitors, transistors, and epidermal sensors.

Loo’s latest innovation lies in the development of self-powered smart windows. The director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University was trained as a polymer physicist; her focus is in materials science and materials physics, working primarily with organic polymers and semiconducting polymers. And her team’s current work toward a self-powering smart window, requires multi-disciplinary expertise from chemistry, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering. “The group that’s worked on this technology is very diverse for that reason,” notes Loo, who will be giving a plenary presentation on “Making Smart Windows Smarter” at SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego on 21 August.

Looking beyond your individual projects, too, toward something bigger, is also key. “Today’s story, for me,” says Loo, “is really about pushing the frontiers of collaboration and partnerships between academia and the private sector.” She sees conferences such as SPIE Optics + Photonics as an opportunity to build such partnerships – “You can seed new collaborations, you can seed new ideas and build new partnerships” – but primarily she sees conference participation as an ambassadorial opportunity for the work that’s being done in her group, particularly for the students who are doing the work: “Going out there and being able to tell people about the latest and newest discoveries that are being made in our lab, that’s what I value most about going to conferences.”