Research pushes possibility of intelligent packaging

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Related tags: Light

Konarka and Evident have formed a nanotech alliance to develop
novel materials that could in the future power 'intelligent' forms
of packaging.

Using Konarka's proprietary polymers and Evident's quantum dots, the team aims to increase the sensitivity of tiny plastic solar cells to a wider range of the light spectrum.

The two US firms believe that the development of high performance coatable and printable plastic solar cells could eventually be used to power intelligent packaging in the future.

"As part of our continuing efforts to push photovoltaic science forward, we've learned how to get sensitivity outside the visible light spectrum, including the infrared, with our polymers,"​ said Russell Gaudiana, vice president of research and development, Konarka.

"This collaboration is focused on determining the best materials to capture more light and how to manufacture them outside the lab environment."

'Intelligent packaging' describes packaging that can monitor or display the freshness of food or indicate if frozen food has thawed during storage and transport. Advances in packaging technology have spawned oxygen scavengers, antimicrobial films and gas permeable packages, while controlled packaging has led to modified atmosphere packaging, moisture absorbers and other hybrid forms of packages to keep foods fresh.

There is a possibility that the research conducted by Konarka and Evident could lead to new ways of powering intelligent packaging on the shelf.

Evident's proprietary EviDots, which are high performance semiconductor nanocrystals active throughout the visible spectrum and into the near-infrared, are being combined with Konarka's conductive polymers to create ultra high performance solar cells that exceed the capabilities of today's best silicon-based technologies. The project is in keeping with both companies' stated missions to offer high-efficiency, low-cost materials in new form factors.

"Through our proprietary nanotechnology, we uniquely design the optical and electronic properties of our EviDots,"​said Michael LoCascio, chief technology officer, Evident Technologies. "Our quantum dots are tuned to absorb light over the solar spectrum from the visible through the infrared.

The company hopes that by combining the quantum dots with Konarka's innovative solar cell technology, ultra high performance plastic solar cells could soon become a commercial reality.

Nanotechnology involves the study and use of materials at an extremely small scale - at sizes of millionths of a millimetre - and exploit the fact that some materials have different properties at this ultra small scale from those at a larger scale. One nanometer is the same as one millionth of a millimetre.

The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research at the Norwegian Institute of Technology (SINTEF) is currently using nanotechnology to create small particles in the film and improve the transportation of some gases through the plastic film to pump out dirty air such as carbon dioxide.

This programme with Evident complements Konarka's ongoing efforts to develop different coat-able and printable chemistries for its light-activated power plastic. Each chemistry can be tuned to a specific purpose, enabling customers to choose the performance that best suits the power requirements of their devices, systems or structures.

Evident Technologies​ is a pioneer in the development of advanced nanomaterials engineered to enable the creation of advanced products for numerous markets including life sciences, solid state lighting, energy, security, telecommunications and emergent nanotechnology markets.

Konarka​ builds products that convert light to energy. The company is the leading developer of polymer photovoltaic products that provide a source of renewable power in a variety of form factors for commercial, industrial, government and consumer applications.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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