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Karl Leo Physical sciences – Condensed matter physics

Karl Leo is a widely published scientist with over 550 refereed publications, and approximately fifty patents. He is a full professor of optoelectronics at Technische Universität in Dresden, Germany. His research interests focus on organic semiconductors and emerging photovoltaic technologies. As opposed to the classical silicon-based electronics, his work on carbon-based solutions have led him to applications such as organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and organic solar cells.

Increasing the efficiency level of organic solar cells has been a major driving force of Leo’s research and entrepreneurial endeavors. One of the eight spin-off companies he has launched, located in Dresden, is the current world-leader with an organic photovoltaics (OPV) efficiency rate of 12%. This is a significant improvement from the early efficiency rate of 1% when organic PVs were first introduced in the 1980s. His goal is to attain around 20%.

Leo’s spin-off companies have gained a good level of success, and have employed over 250 people and generated sizeable revenue levels. One of these companies, Novaled AG, supplied materials for organic LEDs and was purchased by Samsung. Another company, Heliatek GmbH, holds the OPV cell efficiency world record and plays a leading role in the application of organic solar cells.


Elected member of the European Academy of Sciences, 2014.

Hector-Prize and Fellow, 2014.

Dr. techn. h.c., University of Southern Denmark, 2013.

Rudolf-Jaeckel-Prize of the German Vacuum Society, 2012.

German Future Prize, 2011.

Relevant Publications

B. Lüssem et al, "Doped Organic Transistors: Inversion and Depletion Regime," Nat. Commun. vol. 4, no. 2775, Nov. 2013.

R. Brückner, "Phase-locked coherent modes in a patterned metal-organic microcavity," Nat. Photonics, vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 322-326, May 2012.

S. Reineke et al, "White organic light-emitting diodes with fluorescent tube efficiency," Nature, vol. 459, no. 7244, pp. 234-238, May 2009.

G. Schwartz, "Harvesting Triplet Excitons from Fluorescent Blue Emitters in White Organic Light-Emitting Diodes," Adv. Mater., vol. 19, no. 21, pp. 3672-3676, Nov. 2007.

K. Walzer, "Highly efficient organic devices based on electrically doped transport layers," Chem. Rev., vol. 107, no. 4, pp. 1233-1271, Apr. 2007.


K. Leo, High-Field Transport in Semiconductor Superlattics, Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2003.



Senior Fellow Bio-inspired Solar Energy


Dresden University of TechnologyInstitut für Angewandte Photophysik


Dr rer nat (Physics) Universität Stuttgart

Privatdozent (Physics) RWTH Aachen

Dipl-Phys (Physics) Universität Freiburg



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