Late on a Friday afternoon, end of a busy week of science news, reviews, a new song, a few snaps, I tweeted that I felt as if my materials science blogging muse had taken a sickie and that I needed to hire a one-day unpaid intern to help me come up with an idea for this week's Materials Today comment. Just as I hit the send to tweet it, of course, inspiration struck as ScienceWatch tweeted one of their citation-based predictions regarding October's science Nobel Prizes. The tweet in question indirectly asked whether it was about time OLEDs were rewarded with the Chemistry Nobel?

It's an interesting thought and one I've have had over the years since first writing about conducting polymers and organic polymer LEDs for New Scientist and its ilk back in the early 1990s when I was but a young rookie in the world of science journalism. OLEDs are the darlings of the electronic information gadget industry featuring as was promised thirty years ago in low-power displays for mobile phones, tablet computers, laptops and more.

Of course, I had had a press release earlier in the week with all of the organization's predictions for this year's science Nobel Prizes but it had got buried under the usual deluge of breakthroughs, major new developments and astounding new theories that hit my inbox in their dozens if not scores every week. The release tells us that they think Ching W. Tang, Professor of Chemical Engineering, at the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York (who is also the Bank of East Asia Professor, Institute for Advanced Study, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong) and Steven Van Slyke Chief Technology Officer, Kateeva, Menlo Park, CA USA, both formerly of Eastman Kodak's Rochester, New York, laboratories, might be odds-on for this year's chemistry prize. The data also hint at two additional predictions regarding two sets of three chemists who worked on functional mesoporous materials and polymerization.

I don't know how successful they have been in the past with their predictions, but the OLED names were not the names I'd have first thought of if I were thinking of the people who pioneered organic light emitting diodes. Maybe I have a Cambridge-centered bias, but the names I knew back in the day were Richard Friend and Andrew Holmes, whose physics and chemistry prowess worked synergistically to develop experimental polymer LEDs in the UK. But, Tang and Van Slyke had, of course, published their research to trigger a revolution in electroluminescence in 1987. In that work, they revealed how an appropriate combination of organic molecules could produce light with little electrical input. ScienceWatch explains that their paper ("Organic electroluminescent diodes", Applied Physics Letters, 1987, 51,: 913-915) has so far been cited more than 9100 times (Google Scholar claims almost 12000 citations for the paper). Either way, I am sure if I went back to my notes from the first year or so of my science writing career I'd find that Friend and Holmes cited Tang and Van Slyke on several occasions.

Unfortunately for the materials oriented of us, 2013 was a physical-theoretical chemistry win and 2012 was a biological chemistry winner. There is no Nobel Prize for Biology and it often seems that the Chemistry Prize is sacrificed to molecular biologists every two or three years. Moreover, the 2000 Chemistry Prize went to Alan J. Heeger, Alan G. MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa "for the discovery and development of conductive polymers", which I think is so closely overlapping with the development of OLEDs that the Nobel committee is perhaps unlikely to tread neighboring territory (although it has happened in the past, of course).

The likelihood to my mind is that the Chemistry Prize announced on the 8th October this year could very well go to something more bio than chemo and certainly not to materials…indeed OLEDs could feature as a left-field Physics Prize nevertheless.

Anyway, I wonder though whether some big names in the world of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [also known as ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease and in the UK as motor neurone disease (MND)] are likely to feature in chemistry if there's a more biochemical and biomedical discovery to reward. Either way there will be a big splash, and I am not referring to this year's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge publicity!

David Bradley blogs at Sciencebase Science Blog and tweets @sciencebase, he is author of the popular science book "Deceived Wisdom".