PhD candidate Fiona Elam (part of the collaboration DIFFER-FUJIFILM-TU/e) won one of two presentation prizes at the July Gordon Research Seminar on Plasma Processing Science. Her talk covered a fast and efficient way to create high quality encapsulation films for flexible solar cells using a plasma environment. The presentation was awarded an invitation to present at the Plasma Processing Science Gordon Research Conference and to write a letter to Journal of Physics D.
Flexible layers of glass
To protect flexible solar cells against the elements, they have to be encapsulated by a moisture barrier. The attractiveness of these flexible solar cells is the possibility to produce them at low cost in a roll-to-roll technique at a speed of many hundreds of meters per hour . As of yet there is no large scale, low cost technique to create the necessary protective layers at similar speeds.
Developing new ways to produce functional foils
Together with FUJIFILM and TU/e, DIFFER is exploring new techniques to produce functional foils, rapidly produced thin materials with properties that can be tailored to applications from gas separation to moisture barriers.
In her research project, Fiona Elam (FUJIFILM-TU/e) is looking at functional foils to protect flexible solar cells from oxygen and water. Using a plasma environment (charged gas), the chemist can cover a substrate with a nanometers-thin, flexible layer of glass. Depositing the glass layer on the right buffer layer, the researcher can create a thinner moisture barrier that is as effective as alternative techniques, but can be produced over two times faster, at 120 meters per hour. The research is now looking at the precise mechanisms at play to further optimise the plasma-deposition process.
Fiona Elam studied Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh and obtained her Master's degree in June 2011. From August 2011 - April 2014 she worked for speciality chemicals company Croda International, as a Graduate Trainee enrolled in the company Graduate Training Scheme. As of June 2014 she embarked upon a PhD at FUJIFILM Europe B.V., TU/e and DIFFER's research group on Atmospheric Plasma Processing of Functional Foils, on the topic of gas permeation mechanisms in silica layers synthesised by high current dielectric barrier discharges, under the framework of the 'RAPID' Marie Curie Initial Training Network.