Research Objectives and Approaches: The overall research objective of this Scalable NanoManufacturing (SNM) award is to develop high speed, ink-jet based roll-to-roll nanopatterning (i-R2R Nano) for cost-sensitive applications such as thin film photovoltaics (PVs). The specific objectives include: (i) Investigation of top-down (nanoimprint) and bottom-up (nanoparticle or block co-polymer) R2R nanopatterning; (ii) Development of enabling technologies for high throughput R2R processes (>50 ft/min) with a total patterning cost target of <$2/m2; and (iii) Optimization of broadband light trapping in nanostructured a-Si PVs on flex substrates using aperiodic plasmonic structures to obtain significantly enhanced efficiencies.
Intellectual Merit: The basic scientific contributions will include: (i) Nano-fluidics, material rheology, multi-scale mechanics modeling, and real-time sensing/control for high-speed i-R2R systems and processes (ii) Design of imprint materials, solvent based self-assembly materials, and interfaces for rapid pattern formation in TD and BU processes; and (iii) Novel material integration and device design for optimum light trapping in thin film PVs on flex substrates.
Broader Impacts: This interdisciplinary program will create fundamental knowledge in the areas of high-speed R2R nanopatterning with low material usage, and in the design of controlled nano-structures for high efficiency PVs. Thin film PVs is representative of the most demanding nano-scale requirements and cost constraints among the various potential applications of R2R nanopatterning. The outreach activities will promote innovation/entrepreneurship; and synergistic activities at the undergraduate level through the UT-Austin Equal Opportunity in Engineering T-REX program.