It's rare that a conference talk will sweep an audience off its feet, but those who heard Bertram Batlogg of Bell Labs address the International Conference on Synthetic Metals (ICSM) in Bad Gastein, Austria, this past July were reportedly blown away by what he had to say. Batlogg's group had achieved the long‐sought goal of making an electrically pumped injection laser from an organic material, specifically tetracene. Furthermore, the team had also shown that the same tetracene crystals could be made to superconduct, with a critical temperature of a few degrees kelvin. But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of both demonstrations was the elegant and novel technique that the Bell Labs team had devised for adding charge: Rather than chemically doping their crystal, the experimenters injected charge through a field‐effect‐transistor arrangement, adding enough charge to convert the normally insulating tetracene crystal into a metal and even a superconductor. The control exerted by these experimenters over the current density allows them to study different regimes of behavior, as they did recently in exploring the fractional quantum Hall effect in tetracene and pentacene.
The following news story reports on work that has since been discredited. An independent committee commissioned by Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, found evidence of scientific misconduct in the papers on which it was based (see Physics Today, November 2002, page 15 http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.1534995). The authors have withdrawn the papers in questions.