Presentation on lamination barriers wins acclaim
Ahmed Salem, a research engineer at TMC, has just won a major prize for his presentation on moisture barriers at the Photovoltaic Specialists’ Conference in Portland, Oregon.
Ahmed’s connection with TMC began when he moved to the Netherlands after studying electronics and nanotechnology in both Cairo and London. ‘I was looking to work on something challenging, using state-of-the-art technology to create a potential product, rather than working in a lab setting. TMC was a great match for me.’
As a research engineer in flexible electronics, Ahmed works with a team that builds barriers for Organic LEDs (OLEDs) and Organic Photovoltaic cells (OPVs) which can be directly deposited, or laminated, onto the devices. ‘The problem with OLED and OPV cells is that they are vulnerable to water and oxygen in the environment. Solar panels, for example, need glass toppings to protect them from the environment.’
The drawback to glass-topped cells is that they are thick and heavy, and completely inflexible. ‘At the Holst Centre on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, we design building blocks for flexible electronic systems, including OLEDs,’ Ahmed explains. They can be used in all kinds of products, including car headlights. ‘OLEDs have the advantage of being flexible. Also, they don’t need aiding optics, such as diffusers or mirrors, because they are not a point source, like conventional LEDs.’
As Ahmed is keen to take his team’s concept a step further, he wanted to visit the Photovoltaic Specialists’ Conference. ‘I was happy that TMC and the Holst Center gave me the opportunity to present a poster on our work at the conference. It was a great way to learn about the latest developments in the field and to take advantage of the networking opportunities.’
His visit to the conference paid off. He impressed many of the attendees with the work of the team from Eindhoven, as well as the conference jury. They picked Ahmed’s poster presentation as the winner in his technical area. This is a great achievement, considering that there were more than a thousand papers presented during the six-day conference. ‘The jury reviewed the posters beforehand for their technical proficiency and impact, but they also examined the oral presentation during the conference,’ Ahmed explains. ‘They wanted to see if the presenter was able to address specific questions asked about the research, if he or she understood the broader impact of it, and if they could suggest potential methods for extending it.’
After his big win, Ahmed’s poster was moved to a prime location in the conference center to acknowledge his outstanding work to more than 1,200 attendants. This made the interest in his product even bigger: ‘Several universities approached me to test our barrier on their photovoltaic cells. I also made new contacts with companies that are interested in our encapsulation expertise.’