Warren Rieutort-Louis has been named the recipient of the Maeder Graduate Fellowship in Energy and the Environment for the academic year 2013-2014. Mr. Rieutort-Louis is a graduate student in the Department of Electrical Engineering; see below for an abstract of the research he will conduct during the year. Selection for the Maeder Fellowship is based on the potential impact of technical solutions to ensure our sustainable energy and environmental future.
Solar-powered, mechanically-flexible, electronic skins based on thin films of semiconducting materials that can cover large surface areas have diverse applications ranging from wireless energy-harvesting from photovoltaics to self-powered, scalable sensor networks and large-area self-powered communication. This research explores the design, analysis and manufacture of the materials and electrical circuits required to assemble energy-efficient, electronic skins for these and other applications by leveraging the strengths of versatile large-area amorphous-silicon (a-Si) thin-film electronics on flexible plastic in tandem with conventional high-performance silicon electronic chips.
For the year of the fellowship, the means of designing and achieving deployment of such systems, fully-integrated into their local environment, will also continue to be explored, making optimal use of thin-film-based solar power. Solutions for scalable energy delivery in such systems will be investigated, continuing to optimize and develop methods for wireless transfer of energy from solar modules, as well as investigating the electronic circuit topologies required for safe and efficient solar-charging of eco-friendly Li-ion thin-film batteries that can serve as energy-storage components, delivering power as required to all components of flexible electronic skins. This research aims to demonstrate that, even with the restricted power budgets of sustainable energy sources and the modest performance of the thin-film amorphous silicon large-area devices on plastic, such large-scale electronic systems are very viable and attractive solutions for acquiring information in an energy-efficient manner from the macro-scale world.