Solar Manufacturing R&D


Thad Druffel, PhD, PE

Thad Druffel, PhD, PE is currently a Senior Research Engineer and Theme Leader, Solar Manufacturing R&D at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at the University of Louisville. His current research is focused on developing materials and processes for roll-to-roll manufacture of devices for renewable energy. This includes synthesizing nanomaterials and formulating them into inks to be deposited using traditional printing techniques. The work also involves using near atmospheric processes to consolidate the nanomaterials into functional bulk thin films. Of particular interest is the use of intense pulsed light sources which heat large areas using a broad spectrum of intense light delivered in very short pulses. His twenty year background in industry includes research, development and engineering topics in several engineering disciplines. He has been involved in projects ranging from solar and water facilities in Africa to corporate research and development of cutting edge technologies. He has PhD in Chemical Engineering, M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering and is a registered Mechanical Engineer in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He is experienced as a principal investigator in grants from the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and State of Kentucky as well as industry-sponsored research. He is active within the entrepreneurial community and continues to be involved in startups. He co-founded Bert Thin Films, LLC along with a former post-doctoral researcher to commercialize a technology that was initially conceived at the Conn Center.

Frank Zamborini, PhD

Professor Frank Zamborini is currently a Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Chemistry and member of the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at the University of Louisville. One area of research is focused on using anodic stripping voltammetry (ASV) to analyze metal nanoparticles. His group has discovered that this electrochemical technique is highly sensitive to nanoparticle size, aggregation state, and the environment of single component metal nanoparticles and to the composition and atomic arrangement of multi-metal nanoparticles. The technique is also useful for analyzing nanoparticle transformations during a variety of chemical or electrochemical reactions, providing a wealth of fundamental information about the electrochemical and chemical size-dependent properties and reactivity of metal nanoparticles. This is very important for obtaining a better understanding of the stability and catalytic activity of metal nanoparticles. The Zamborini group has also developed an electrophoretic deposition method that allows size-selective deposition of metal nanoparticles, which could find use in the fabrication of electrodes loaded with highly active metal electrocatalysts. His group has also worked in the area of photovoltaics, where they improved the stability of dye-sensitized solar cells by covalently linking dye molecules to a titania surface and improved the efficiency by incorporating rare earth metal oxides into the mesoporous titania film. Other projects of interest involve the use of metal nanostructures for molecular detection by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy and localized surface plasmon resonance sensing and the electrochemical fabrication of one-dimensional nanowires and nanochains for resistive switching based memory devices. 

Professor Zamborini earned a B.S. degree from Carthage College in 1993 and his Ph.D. degree from Texas A&M University in 1998. He performed postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1998 until he joined the faculty at the University of Louisville in 2001. He has received funding for his research from the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society, the Department of Energy, and the Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation. He has close to 60 peer reviewed journal publications, almost 90 invited lectures, and 4 patents. He is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Physical Chemistry and was a past member of the board of directors for the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry. In 2017, he received the A&S Career Achievement Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity at the University of Louisville. 

Delaina Amos, PhD

Dr. Delaina Amos, Associate Professor received a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia. She later obtained a MS and PhD from the University of California Berkeley. After graduation, she joined Eastman Kodak, holding a variety of roles over her 13-year career there. Her roles at Kodak included research scientist, R&D team leader, technical liaison, and intellectual property co-leader. While at Kodak, work that she was involved in went into creating the new platform of pigment-based inks for the Kodak consumer and continuous printer lines. Dr. Amos joined the faculty at the University of Louisville in 2010 as an Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering. Her research interests involve novel uses of materials for renewable energy and display applications such as lighting and solar cells. Her current projects involve the elucidation of new materials for solar cells and hybrid light emitting diodes and the translation of these new materials into manufacturing ready systems. She has expertise in inkjet materials, printing and thin film fabrication. In 2015, Dr. Amos was recognized for two of her inventions, which were licensed by Bert Thin Films, LLC, at the 2015 President’s Celebration of Faculty Excellence. She is an associated faculty of the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at UofL. She has received funding from NSF, NASA and the KY Science Engineering Foundation, and is also the recipient of the 2017 University of Louisville Presidential Exemplary Multicultural Teaching Award. She has a particular interest in broadening participation for women, women of color, and all underrepresented minorities. She has active collaborations with industry as well as colleagues at NREL, Texas AM in the US as well as in Switzerland.

Craig Grapperhaus, PhD

Craig Grapperhaus, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisville. His current research is focused on the design and synthesis of catalysis for the activation of small molecules. Current projects are focused on the hydrogen evolution reaction and the reduction of carbon dioxide. The work involves synthesis and characterization of molecular catalysts, evaluation of their reactivity and catalytic activity, and mechanistic investigations through experiment and computation. Professor Grapperhaus received his PhD in Chemistry from Texas A&M University and was an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Bioinorganic Chemistry. He is a longtime member of the American Chemical Society and was designated a Research Exemplar by The Research Exemplar Project at Washington University School of Medicine.

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