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  • VO: University of Kentucky chemistry professor John Anthony is making low-cost solar cells

  • and transistors out of carbon, instead of silicon.

  • Carbon is a lot more versatile than silicone. Silicone is basically a mineral, it’s a

  • rock. Which means youare very limited in, how you can shape it. In order to get

  • the silicone they use in a solar cell, you have to take sand and heat it with coal at

  • thousands of degrees. Carbon-based materials can be processed, they can be molded and shaped

  • at much lower temperatures.

  • Right now, were working on what’s called a bulk hetero-junction organic photovoltaic.

  • That’s a lot of big words strung togetherto describe a process that is ridiculously

  • simple. You take a transparent conductor and you basically slather these organics on from

  • a solution like an ink and then the materials just spontaneously self-assemble into a working

  • solar cell.

  • One of the grants we just got funding for, were trying to get a little more sophisticated

  • in using inkjet printing techniques to make organic solar cells. You’d put a transparent

  • conductor sheet of plastic which are easy to make into an ink jet printer and use some

  • of our proprietary inks andzzzzzand out the other end pops a solar cell.

  • What can we do on a big scale? The dream I have is there are a lot of printing plants

  • that are used to printing high-resolution, full-color images that are idle, so if we

  • can just design inks to make solar cells that way, think of the speed at which you could

  • just start printing off solar cells. Lightweight, flexible, you can put them on anything. You

  • know you can coat the windows of skyscrapers with solar cells and start generating some

  • the energy that’s used to cool down the skyscraper. So there’s a lot of potential

  • if we just get the scale up.

  • VO: Outrider Technologies, a company formed in 2005 based on Anthony’s research, is

  • making organic transistors for flexible, flat panel displays.

  • Weve been able to put transistors, basically, integrated circuits on saran wrap, so plastic

  • that’s thinner than thiswe can wrinkle it up and crumple it and it still works. We

  • actually just submitted this for publication to one of the nature journals. So we know

  • we can do the basic circuitry and that it’s stable, it doesn’t die when you crumple

  • it up and fold it up and stuff it in your pocket, right. Then next question is can we

  • get the performance out of it? And that is where a good-sized effort of my research group

  • is now turning its attention.

  • VO: With grants from the Navy, NSF and industrial sponsors, John Anthony’s research team recently

  • moved into the new laboratory building at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research.

  • Now that I’m out here, I’ve basically doubled the number of current, active research

  • grants. Just because now I have the space to support people.

  • What we have to do as chemists is, we have to figure out what needs to be made, we have

  • to then figure out how to make it, and then we have to do the initial screening to see

  • if it’s going to have the right properties.

  • My graduate students in my group, right, they need to know an awful lot of physics, they

  • need to know a lot of electrical engineering, they need to know a lot of materials engineering,

  • in order just to figure out what molecule needs to be made and then all of their chemical

  • knowledge can come into play.

  • There are few things better in the world than having a different point of view. I really

  • like having ideas thrown at me from every single direction and using those ideas to

  • feed into new projects.

  • I can’t tell you how many new projects and how many grant dollars have been brought up

  • because I’ve gone to a seminar that’s completely out of my area. And hearing somebody

  • complain, saying, you know we could really advance this field if only we could do this.

  • I know how to do that. And a new collaboration is born.

VO: University of Kentucky chemistry professor John Anthony is making low-cost solar cells

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B1 solar solar cell printing anthony silicone organic

UK's John Anthony Talks Organic Solar Cells and Transistors

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    wu posted on 2013/12/05
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