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[Summer series] Ikbal Marghad - A luminary

Ikbal Marghad, a researcher of the Molecular Chemistry Laboratory and at the Irradiated Solids Laboratory of École Polytechnique, has launched a blog on OLED and is embarking on an entrepreneurial adventure.

©Silvère Leprovost

Ikbal Marghad discovered OLEDs while working on her thesis, and she has never left them since. OLEDs, or organic light-emitting diodes, generate light by means of conductors made up of organic molecules. They are used for lighting, advertising displays, television screens, smartphones, and connected devices, and also for light therapy, in particular for the treatment of skin cancer. “Because of its many applications, this technology offers a great challenge for innovation. This is what attracts and motivates me,” comments the research scientist, whose love for challenges and for action carries over to her taste in movies, which runs to Mission Impossible-type adventures. The fact is that OLEDs are in their infancy and their development has been hampered by the high cost of production.

It is precisely on this point that Ikbal Marghad’s research work boasts a double interest. Based on her work for her thesis in Toulouse with the Molecular Chemistry Laboratory (LCM) and at the Irradiated Solids Laboratory of École Polytechnique, two patents were filed. The first concerns the synthesis of molecules using initial products and low cost processes. She relied for this on a process of molecular synthesis developed over a ten-year period at LCM. Tested during her post-doctoral research in Japan, the molecules thus obtained exhibit the same performances as those produced by conventional methods. “This is encouraging because lowering the cost of synthesis, lowers production costs and therefore the price of OLEDs,” the researcher explains. The second patent concerns the development of an innovative molecule that enables the final molecule used in OLEDs to be synthesized in a single step.

While Ikbal Marghad began her scientific career by the end of her chemistry Master's degree work in the field of luminescence, as a research engineer at the Irradiated Solids Laboratory of l’X, she now concentrates her attention exclusively on OLEDs. After launching a blog (oledchemistry.strikingly.com), she is embarking on an entrepreneurial adventure. The research scientist received a grant in 2016 from Idex Paris-Saclay for preliminary work on the project. She has just submitted a pre-selection application and hopes to secure a funding of 100,000 to 500,000 euros, as seed money to finalize her start-up project and define a business model for the licensing and sale of the technology. It is a process that takes time. She is leaving in June 2017 to spend four months in Japan working on the manufacture of these organic diodes. “Research requires a lot of patience,” she says. “You have to stay optimistic and believe in your projects, otherwise they will not succeed.” In this regard, Ikbal Marghad should be able to draw from her practice of yoga as a mental discipline to help her in her future role of entrepreneur.

Find all the portraits of researchers of our summer series, here.