|Video of the Researcher|
Dr. Benoit Lessard
Using organic semiconductors to build electronic components, including OLED based lighting, flexible photovoltaic tarps for building integration, and biosensors for the lifescience industry
|Type of researcher|
|Introduce yourself, your experience and your credentials||
The demand for high performance materials with complex functionality is perpetual due to the nature of modern technologies. These materials must also be ideally environmentally benign, inexpensive and easily fabricated to displace current industrial materials or to create new applications that benefit society. Polymers have long been desirable due to their mechanical flexibility and their relatively low fabrication cost. To significantly modify the microstructure and the desired performance of the final polymer, substitution of the constituent monomer used or the addition of a second or even third monomer into the mixture can easily be accomplished. Polymers with functional groups either randomly distributed or as distinct blocks have found application in next-generation separation media, flexible solar cells, biocompatible polymers for biosensors, catalyst supports and nano-reactors to name but a few.
|Describe your research||
What we do is we work on organic electronics, which are electronics that use carbon-based semiconductors. What that means is that we can use these carbon based semi-conductors like polymers or small molecules. They have a lot of inherent advantages over your silicon-based semiconductors that are used in conventional electronics.
In our lab we work on the design of new molecules by doing chemistry to modify existing dyes, for example. We also fabricate devices in the lab. We have projects on photovoltaics, projects on transistors, projects related to organic light-emitting diodes and sensors.
A lot of our major discoveries are related to either the development of new materials, something that is more effective. For example, we have a project where we are developing new additives for organic photovoltaics. We developed additives that makes them more stable as well as more efficient.
We have other projects that are related to the actual manufacturing like developing new routes to obtain more effective devices. In the lab we have students who are working on the chemistry as well as manufacturing and building of prototypes. We also work very closely with Canadian industries to build prototypes and molecules.
|Explain its significance||
Organic semiconductors or electronics made from organic semiconductors are already starting to enter the market. Things like cellphones. You have the display screen, which is OLED. It’s a lot brighter, more efficient, but also thinner, so you can have a bigger battery in there. And you’re also starting to see OLED TVs.
There’s also a lot of push for OLED based lighting. If you can have lighting that’s more efficient, uses less energy that’s also very important. Again, organic photovoltaics can be made very thin, therefore flexible.
Because they can be processed and manufactured at lower temperature, they can actually be manufactured with our conventional printing processes; so you can print photovoltaics with an ink jet printer or roll to roll like you print a newspaper.
That can result in inexpensive photovoltaics that are flexible. The idea is that you can have a solar tarp or a roll up solar panel that you can take with you camping. This would make it much more accessible to the public and for off-grid applications, having access to inexpensive solar panels.
Other things include building integration. Because you can make these photovoltaics semi-transparent, many companies are looking at the possibility of having either curtains that are photovoltaic or even having coating on their skyscrapers which can reduce the light coming in, which they already want to do, but also increase the energy generation to make carbon neutral buildings.
Another example is that these organic electronic sensors can be used as bio sensors. These semiconductors can be used to interact with different biological systems. We can envision using these biosensors for doping for athletes or for detecting diseases.
You can have an inexpensive transistor that can be used as a biosensor to detect diseases in third world countries where access to a lab might be hard.
University of Ottawa
75 Laurier Ave E, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N6, Canada
|Type of institution|