Iain McCulloch

Professor Iain McCulloch FRS

Iain McCulloch is a Professor of Polymer Chemistry, in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford, UK. He also holds a joint position as Professor of Polymer Materials within the Program of Chemical Sciences at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia, and serves as Director of the KAUST Solar Center.

Iain McCulloch is also a Visiting Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London. He obtained his BSc and PhD in Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde.

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McCulloch began his career after graduating with a PhD in Polymer Chemistry from University of Strathclyde, UK, at Hoechst Celanese Corporation in New Jersey, USA where he designed, developed and commercialized functional polymers for a range of optical, electronic, and drug-delivery applications including  a water-based antireflective polymer system for photoresist processes with AZ Clariant.  He then moved to ISP Corporation, in New Jersey, USA, to manage the polymer physics research group, working on developing methodology for rheological surface science and electronic products. 

In 2000, he returned to the UK, as a research manager at Merck Chemicals in Southampton, where he was responsible for developing semiconducting polymers for organic electronic and solar-cell applications. A key aspect of his research was the exploitation of molecular alignment and organization of semiconducting polymers and small molecules in the liquid crystalline phase. At Merck, his group discovered a liquid crystalline thiophene polymer, pBTTT, which subsequently underpinned many research advances in charge transport of organic thin films since its publication in Nature Materials in 2006, which garnered the distinction of one of the top ten most influential papers published in the first five years of publication of the journal.

In 2007, McCulloch joined the faculty at Imperial College to continue research in organic semiconductor materials.  At this time, along with colleague Professor Martin Heeney, cofounded the specialty chemical company, Flexink Ltd, where he is currently the managing director, which have been in operation for the last 12 years, supplying a range of electronic materials to leading manufacturers across the world.  At Imperial, he continued to explore new chemistries for organic solar cells and transistors, developing the polymer IDTBT, which exhibits disorder free transport, and an early non-fullerene electron acceptor for solar cells, IDTBR

McCulloch joined KAUST in 2014, and became Director of the KAUST Solar Center in 2016. His work developing new solar cell materials led to the discovery that a ternary materials blend, with two non-fullerene acceptors, could outperform the equivalent binary devices, leading to high power conversion efficiencies, that helped towards a resurgence in the field.  He continues to expand his application focus for polymer materials to perform at the interface between biology and electronics, demonstrating together with colleagues Jonathan Rivnay, George Malliaras and Sahika Inal, electron transport in an organic electrochemical transistor (OECT) operated in an aqueous electrolyte in ambient conditions.  This discovery provided the impetus for a new class of polymer based electrochemical transistor sensors for biological applications and improve the sophistication of bioelectronic devices. Further work with colleague Inal has led to their employment in the detection of lactate and glucose with potential societal impact in healthcare.

Recognition and output

McCulloch's scientific achievements were recognised by the 2011 analysis of the “Top 100 Materials Scientists, 2000-10, Ranked by Citation Impact” where he was ranked at number 35 globally and number 2 in the UK. He is among the top 100 most cited chemists in the world, and is included in the list of the Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers for Materials Science in 2014, 2015 2016, 2017, 2018 and Chemistry in 2017, 2018  and Crossfield in 2019.


Research Output (Google Scholar, Oct 2020)

  • 393 peer-reviewed papers, 65 patents filed, 1 book edited, 6 book chapters co-authored.
  • Google Scholar h-index: 101 with > 41000 citations and > 338 papers with at least 10 citations.


  • The European Academy of Sciences 2020 Blaise Pascal Medal for Materials Science (2020)

  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (2020)

  • Royal Society of Chemistry, Interdisciplinary Prize (2020)

  • Elected Member of Academia Europaea (2020)

  • Elected Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences (2016)

  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2014)

  • Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher, (Materials Science 2014 - 18: Chemistry 2017, 2018: Crossfield 2019)

  • Royal Society of Chemistry - Tilden Prize for Advances in Chemistry (2014)

  • Royal Society - Wolfson Merit Award (2014)

  • Royal Society of Chemistry Creativity in Industry Award (2009)                                                             

  • RSC Teamwork in Innovation Award – Highly Commended (2007)                                                     

  • IDTechEx Award for Printed Electronics Best Technical Development – Materials (2007)

  • Alfred Woodhead Award presented by the Society for Information Display (SID) (2006)

Advisory and Editorial Work
  • Associate Editor Science Advances (2020-date)
  • Advisory Board Member of (RSC) Journal of Materials Chemistry C (2020 – date)                  
  • Advisory Board Member of (RSC) Materials Advances (2020-date)                                         
  • Appointed Member of RSC Organic Division Council (2011 - 2014)                                          
  • Appointed Member of RSC Macro Division Council (2003 - 2006)                                             
  • Associate Editor: Materials Science and Engineering R: Reports (2008-date)                   
  • Editorial Advisory Board Member, Chemistry of Materials (2011 - date)