Thame, United Kingdom
Thame, United Kingdom

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Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENERGY.2008.10.1.2;NMP-2008-2.6-1 | Award Amount: 2.09M | Year: 2009

The objective of the SOLAMON project is to develop high potential Plasmon Generating Nanocomposite Materials (PGNM) which will pave the way to the generation III solar cells (high efficiency & low cost). The objective is an augmentation in the External Quantum Efficiency resulting in an increase of 20% in the short circuit current density of the thin film solar cells. To achieve such an ambitious goal, the project will focus on the development of fully tailored building block nanoparticles able to generate a plasmon effect for enhanced solar absorption in thin film solar cells. Such nanoparticles designed for an optimum absorption will be integrated in solar cells matrix using a recently developed room temperature deposition process. This step will result in the specific design of PGNM for solar cells using a knowledge based approach coupling modeling at both scales: nanoscopic (plasmonic structure) and macroscopic (solar cells). SOLAMON will address three different classes of solar cells: a-Si:H thin films, organics and dye sensitised. Developing the PGNM on these three classes aims at maximizing the project impact and not to compare them because scientific background acquired on these technologies could be easily transferred to other ones. As a matter of fact, a-Si:H technology targets mainly the BuiIding Integrated PV (BIPV) market (large surfaces) whereas the two others are most suitable for the consumer good market (nomad applications). The project workprogram, the critical path and the contingencies plans are designed to maximize both social and economic impact. For this reason, the BIPV applications (i.e. a-Si:H based technology) will be firstly considered when a strategic choice occurs, keeping in mind that, even of large economic importance, the two other technologies do not have the same key BIPV environmental and social impact.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 1.37M | Year: 2013

In spite of its challenging properties, the utilization of graphene for technical applications still demands considerable efforts in developing dedicated processing methods, which have a potential to be adapted and finally utilized for industrial scale device manufacturing. Among the processes which have been investigated so far, chemical vapour deposition of graphene on copper, where copper acts as a catalyst to facilitate the growth of single layered graphene - appears to be one the most promising approaches. Although extensively studied, there are issues with this process related to quality, reproducibility and yield, which are connected to the lack of control of the interface between copper and graphene. Within the process, which we will be able to tackle these issues in a more controllable way by a combined in-situ deposition system, where copper and other possible metals are deposited within one vacuum system together with the graphene CVD, i.e without exposing the sample to an ambient environment. Like for 2D Ga-Al-As semiconductor heterostructures, the control of the interfaces on an atomic length scale by means of an in-situ multilayer deposition process is expected to be the pathway which will enable the ultilization of graphenes unqiue properties within manufacturable device structures. In spite of this potential, we feel the full integration of graphene into CMOS technology, although being extremely challenging on the long term - still has a very long way to go and may even be impossible without fundamentally different processing approaches. However, sensor technologies as a whole are mostly based on hybrid solutions, where the sensor itself - even chip based in some cases - is still separated from the CMOS digital electronic by flip chip, wire bonding or simple by conventional wiring. A widely used example of high indutrial impact are piezoelectric sensors, where the high processing temperature of the lead-zirconium-titanate ceramics are incompatible with CMOS processing conditions. Based on this philosophy, we believe that the in-situ growing approach for metal-graphene multilayers, as envisaged to be developed within this project, will enable a significant improvement of existing sensor concepts and the realization and manufacturing of new sensor concepts. Based on the expertise of our scientific partners within Imperial College and NPL and our associated partners from industry, we will focus on biosensor applications, where graphene - as carbon based material - is particularly challenging as bio-interface. As - from the point of view of process technology -the most simple approach, graphene coated copper electrodes will have a potential for radiofrequency - microwave - terahertz biosensor, where copper will outperform gold due to lower conduction losses and graphene provides the interface to the biomolecules and cells. As a second step on a scale of increasing complexity of process technology, we believe that a sacrificial layer process for arbitrary shaped free standing graphene membranes and (sub)micro scale flexural beam is a realistic development goal. This technology will enable the development of arrays of nanomechanical sensors, based on the exceptional mechanical properties of graphene. Apart from sensor applications, graphene- based NEMS structures are challenging objects for the refinement and exploration of metrology for nanotechnology and biology, as being pursued by our collaborators from NPL. The recently discovered confined plasmon-polariton excitations - originating from the unique electronic properties of graphene - are currently one of the hottest topic within the graphene research community. We believe, that the tailored free standing structures we will be able to manufacture with this deposition kit, will pave the way to explore and finally utilize this unique optical - infrared properties of graphene for novel sensor applications.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENERGY.2010.2.1-2 | Award Amount: 2.11M | Year: 2010

The minority carrier diffusion lengths are small in polycrystalline or amorphous materials used in thin film solar cells, requiring thin layers to maximize charge collection. This is contradictory for the requirement to maximize solar energy absorption. The optical design consisting in increasing solar cells light-trapping capability is of prime importance. In order to provide total internal reflection, both randomly textured surfaces and regularly patterned surfaces have been investigated. No one of these approaches provides optimal light trapping because no one is suitable for the broad solar spectrum. Recent approaches involving new TCO layers show that double textures provide improved scattering. The AGATHA project aims to realize an advanced light trapping design by combining micro-texturing of glass by hot embossing and nano-texturing of the top TCO layer by etching. The parameters of this modulated surface texture can be adjusted to maximize the light scattering in all the solar spectrum to provide a significant increase in both short-circuit current and EQE. Suitable for high production throughput, the new texturation process chain developed in AGATHA fits with the intrinsic low cost nature of thin film solar cells To demonstrate the efficiency of this optical trapping design, the modulated texture concept will be implemented in a-Si:H based, -c-Si:H based and CIGS based thin films technologies. The objective is to reduce the active material thickness, from 250 nm up to 150 nm for the a-Si:H, from 1.5 m up to 1 m for c-Si:H and from 2.5 m up to 800 nm for the CIGS, when increasing the short circuit current of 15 % The choice of these technologies aims to maximize the impact by addressing 70% of the thin film market. According to typical solar cells cost structure, a 15 % reduction of the cost/m2 is achievable. Combined with the Jsc improvement, the implementation of modulated surface texture should result in a 20 % decrease of the /W indicator. AGATHA is an EU coordinated project in the framework of call FP7-ENERGY-2010-INDIA, foreseeing a simultaneous start with the Indian coordinated project. Accordingly, the Indian project should start at the latest within 3 months of the signature of the EU grant agreement.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: JTI-CP-FCH | Phase: SP1-JTI-FCH.2011.3.1;SP1-JTI-FCH.2011.3.4 | Award Amount: 3.42M | Year: 2012

The development of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) operating on hydrocarbon fuels (natural gas, biofuel,LPG) is the key to their short to medium term broad commercialization. The development of direct HC SOFCs still meets lot of challenges and problems arising from the fact that the anode materials operate under severe conditions leading to low activity towards reforming and oxidation reactions, fast deactivation due to carbon formation and instability due to the presence of sulphur compounds. Although research on these issues is intensive, no major technological breakthroughs have been so far with respect to robust operation, sufficient lifetime and competitive cost. T-CELL proposes a novel electrochemical approach aiming at tackling these problems by a comprehensive effort to define, explore, characterize, develop and realize a radically new triode approach to SOFC technology together with a novel, advanced architecture for cell and stack design. This advance will be accomplished by means of an integrated approach based both on materials development and on the deployment of an innovative cell design that permits the effective control of electrocatalytic activity under steam or dry reforming conditions. The novelty of the proposed work lies in the pioneering effort to apply Ni-modified materials electrodes of proven advanced tolerance, as anodic electrodes in SOFCs and in the exploitation of our novel triode SOFC concept which introduces a new controllable variable into fuel cell operation. In order to provide a proof of concept of the stackability of triode cells, a triode SOFC stack consisting of at least 4 repeating units will be developed and its performance will be evaluated under methane and steam co-feed, in presence of a small concentration of sulphur compound. Success of the overall ambitious objectives of the proposed project will result in major progress beyond the current state-of-the-art and will open entirely new perspectives in cell and stack designs.


Patent
Mantis Deposition | Date: 2010-07-13

A sample holder comprises a first thermal mass, a second thermal mass, and a sample vessel, the first and second thermal masses being movable relative to each other thereby to selectively place one or other in thermal contact with the sample vessel, at least one of the thermal masses being held at an elevated temperature. By moving the thermal masses appropriately, the sample holder can be brought into contact with each selectively, adjusting its temperature toward that of the thermal mass with which it is in contact relatively rapidly to allow close and rapid control of the sample temperature. The sample vessel is preferably biased toward the second thermal mass and can be slidably supported on at least one pin extending from the second thermal mass. The first thermal mass and/or the second thermal mass can comprise at least one block of copper. The second thermal mass can comprise, a pair of copper blocks/located either side of the first thermal mass. Generally, we prefer that it is the first thermal mass that is held at an elevated temperature. This allows the sample to default to a cool(er) state.


Patent
Mantis Deposition | Date: 2012-03-20

An apparatus for the production of nanoparticles comprises a chamber, a magnetron located within the chamber and comprising a cylindrical target having at least an outer face of the material to be deposited and a hollow interior, a source of magnetic flux within the hollow interior arranged to present magnetic poles in a direction that is radially outward with respect to the cylindrical target, and a drive arrangement for imparting a relative motion in an axial direction to the target and the source of magnetic flux, the chamber having at least one aperture and being located within a volume of relatively lower gas pressure compared to the interior of the chamber. The chamber is preferably substantially cylindrical, and is ideally substantially co-axial with the target so as to offer a symmetrical arrangement.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Feasibility Study | Award Amount: 24.50K | Year: 2013

Mantis Deposition Ltd. has, over the last eight years, developed an innovative technique for the manufacture of thin film nano-structured coatings. In recent years, and in collaboration with its product development partners, Mantis has successfully harnessed this technology to build and test several prototype devices and structures with commercial potential in diverse markets including photovoltaics, catalysis and consumer electronic devices. The objective for this project is to assess the feasibility of controlling the process to the tolerances required in a manufacturing environment. The project will highlight the critical process control parameters and operational limits. The report will outline the requirements for transferring the technology from a research and development environment to a volume manufacturing facility.


Patent
Mantis Deposition | Date: 2012-02-22

An apparatus (10) comprising a source (20) for generating a flow of particles substantially along an axis; a first chamber (12), having a first diameter in a direction transverse to the axis, in which the particles agglomerate together into nanoparticles (32) of a first size; and a second chamber (14), coupled to the first chamber, in which the nanoparticles agglomerate together into nanoparticles (34) of a second, greater size. The second chamber has a second diameter transverse to the axis that is narrower than the first diameter.


Patent
Mantis Deposition | Date: 2010-09-17

We have found that a pulsed DC supply is surprisingly beneficial in the use of sputter deposition for creating nanoparticles. The deposition rate is increased, and the particle size can be tuned so that it clusters around a specific value. A method of sputter deposition is therefore disclosed, comprising the steps of providing a magnetron, a sputter target, and an AC power supply or a pulsed DC power supply for the magnetron, sputtering particles from the sputter target into a chamber containing an inert gas, allowing the particles to coalesce into nanoparticles, and controlling the frequency of said AC power supply or said pulsed DC power supply to take one of a plurality of frequency values, each frequency value corresponding to a respective size distribution of said nanoparticles. The power supply frequency is preferably between 75 kHz and 150 kHz as this appears to yield optimal results. A corresponding apparatus for generating nanoparticles is also disclosed.


Patent
Mantis Deposition | Date: 2011-07-08

A production method for nanoparticles is disclosed which allows excellent control of the production parameters and elevated production rates. It comprises a plurality of sputter targets arranged in a coplanar manner, a first gas supply located between the plurality of sputter targets, for emitting a stream of gas; and a plurality of magnetrons, one located behind each of the sputter targets. Each magnetron can have an independently controlled power supply, allowing close control. For example, the targets could be of different materials allowing variation of the alloying compositions. A plurality of further gas supplies can be provided, each further gas supply providing a supply of gas over a sputter target. The sputter targets can be arranged in a rotationally symmetric manner, ideally symmetrically around the first gas supply. It is particularly convenient for the sputter targets to be located at a surface of a support, within a recessed portion on that surface bounded by an upstand, as this allows the plurality of further gas supplies to be located on the upstand, each directed towards a sputter target. This then permits close control of the gas flow rate and direction over each sputter target.

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