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Five minutes with Magnus Berggren

Magnus Berggren

Magnus Berggren, professor of organic electronics, and newly elected member Number 1626 of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA).

Congratulations on your appointment! How does it feel?
I’m honoured and overwhelmed; this was completely unexpected. But I’ve just returned from a trip to Korea with a delegation from the Academy, so I had an idea what it entailed.

What’s does being a member mean?
As a member I must promote the significance of research in society, and stand up and fight for the research being conducted. Today, doubts exist in public debates regarding the results of research, for example in terms of the environment, so this is an important task.

The Academy’s present structure of promoting the sciences was created by Jöns Jacob Berzelius; it’s a pleasure to both continue in that spirit and to strengthen the position of Östergötland within the Academy.

Why do you think you were elected?
We’ve worked on organic electronics long term and the field has recently received a real boost. Products have begun to be released to the market LEDs, for example and the entire field is now an established science.

In addition, our research group has produced remarkable results over the year, a fantastic production of publications and theses. I don’t think I’ll ever have a year like this again.

How did you become interested in organic electronics?
When I was doing military service in the early 1990s, I had time to think about what I wanted to do. I’d read about Ingemar Lundström and Olle Inganäs’, and so I simply asked to meet them. We took a liking to one another, and when I was discharged I was offered a graduate student position with Olle Inganäs. The first year was tough; I didn’t know what I was doing there, but then the first results were released and since then it’s been a smooth ride.

Are there any technological breakthroughs you dream about?
Yes. It’s a great dream of mine to imitate the chemical processes in cells and create a chemical chip. It should be possible to get neurotransmitters, the cells’ own signalling substances, to work like charge carriers in chemical circuits. The process in which the cell secretes biomolecules and sends a signal from one cell to another is called exocytosis. When I’m lying awake at night, it’s because I’m thinking about these processes.

How far off could the breakthrough be?
Right now Klas Tybrandt and Erik Gabrielsson are working on this, but we need to strengthen our efforts. We’re looking for six new graduate students and postdocs; several of them will be working in this field, so in two or three years we might have a chemical CMOS circuit.

We have a fantastic ecosystem for organic electronics in the region today. With my group, Olle Inganäs’ group, and businesses like Acreo, Thin Film and others, there are about 80 people working in the field. It’s a critical mass for producing really good results.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, was founded 1739. Among its members have been Carl Linnaeus, Anders Celsius, Anders Johan von Höpken and Christopher Polhem.

Jöns Jacob Berzelius, the chemist from Östergötland, was the Academy’s permanent secretary from 1818 to 1848. He was also the man who created the Academy’s current structure in the 1820s and gave it the task of promoting the sciences, chiefly mathematics and the natural sciences.
The Academy today has 420 Swedish members, where ten are from LiU, and 176 members from other countries.

Monica Westman Svenselius 2011-11-25

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Last updated: 2017-02-13