Did you know that there are experts who evaluate the Energy Department’s work to see if projects really are transforming clean energy economy in sectors like transportation? To gather feedback from the research community, many programs across the Department have annual merit or peer reviews where scientific experts rate projects for their value. This week from June 8 to 12, the Vehicle Technologies Office and Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program are simultaneously holding their Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of Energy Department-funded projects will be put to the test.
To cover almost all of the work funded by the Vehicle and Fuel Cell Technologies Offices reviewers will judge nearly 400 individual activities. The reviewers come from a variety of backgrounds, including current and former members of the vehicles industry, academia, national laboratories, and government. From back-to-back presentations to poster sessions, the days are intellectually demanding, requiring intense focus and analysis of highly technical projects.
But the valuable feedback will make the challenge worth it. Each reviewer evaluates a set of projects based on how much they contribute to or advance the Energy Department’s missions and goals. The reviewer considers the project’s breadth, depth, appropriateness, accomplishments, and potential. Considering the short and long-term benefits, he or she judges the project based on a standard set of defined metrics. Reviewers provide numeric scores and in-depth comments, creating a comprehensive project report card. After the review, the offices carefully consider the reviewers’ recommendations as they generate work plans, create long-term strategies, and formulate budgets.
Open to the public and free of charge, the Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting provides a great opportunity for those interested in the Energy Department’s research, development, and deployment activities in transportation to learn about the relevant programs. Merit reviews also serve two other valuable purposes: increasing transparency and building a vibrant research community.
Can’t attend? The offices will post the presentations to their websites a few weeks after the meeting. In fact, presentations from past merit reviews are available on the Vehicle Technologies Office website and the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program website. About three to four months after the review, the programs also post reports with the results of the review.
Because the reviews bring together breadth and depth of energy experts, they allow researchers in industry, academia, and government to learn about others’ projects. They help scientists see where their work intersects, enabling them to collaborate more effectively. They also facilitate the movement of technology from the government, labs, and universities into the private sector, which can bring them to market.
Merit and peer reviews are invaluable to the government, public and industry. They help keep projects on the right track and drive innovation forward. While the Vehicle Technologies Office and Hydrogen and Fuel Cell 2015 Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation meeting is only this week, it will have a positive impact for the clean energy economy of tomorrow. Find out more about the projects being reviewed by following us on Twitter with the hashtags #VTOAMR and #H2AMR.
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Research into organic semiconductors could lead to more efficient LED TVs and flexible solar cells that are cheaper to make and take less energy to produce according to researchers at the University of Bath.
Semiconductors are used in devices such as LED TVs to convert electric current to light; and in photovoltaic cells, which absorb light energy and convert it into electricity. Traditionally ‘inorganic semiconductors’, often based on silicon, are used in such devices. However these are relatively difficult to make and take a lot of energy to produce.
It is estimated that solar cells made from silicon can take a year to pay back the total energy consumed in their manufacture.
Despite efforts over the last three decades to develop organic semiconductors on a mass scale, scientists have been challenged by the fact that this type of semiconductor is less efficient at conducting electricity.
Now, a team from the University of Bath, collaborating with scientists in Germany and The Netherlands, has identified how the electronics industry could overcome some of the existing problems associated with using organic semiconductors.
Semiconductors are used in devices such as LED TVs to convert electric current to light; and in photovoltaic cells, commonly known as solar panels, which absorb light energy and convert it into electricity.
Dr Daniele Di Nuzzo, Research Officer in Physics at the University and first author on the paper, explained: “Conventional semiconductor devices are tricky to make because they first require the production of crystalline materials. Because of this, they also use up a lot of energy to be produced.
“In contrast, organic semiconductors can be processed via printing techniques. For example, organic semiconducting polymers can be dissolved in a solvent to make an electronic ink to be printed onto a surface.
“However they have a disordered structure and conduct electrical charges less well than silicon.”
One way of improving the electrical properties of organic semiconductors is to mix them with ‘doping’ molecules, which work by adding electrical charges to the polymer.
Dr Di Nuzzo added: “It’s difficult currently to implement the doping technique in an effective way to produce organic semiconductor devices that work with high performances. Our research shows why this is the case and suggests how we can improve the performance of these materials.”
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found that the size and geometrical position of the doping molecule used had an effect on the efficiency of the semiconductor material.
Dr Enrico Da Como from the University’s Department of Physics, led the study. He explained: “The organic polymer consists of a chain of units which is mixed with the doping molecule before it is printed onto a surface. We found that the doping molecule can bind to the polymer in several different orientations, some of which make a more effective semiconductor than others.
“Our work suggests that if you use a larger doping molecule, you limit the number of ways it can bind to the polymer, making the efficiency of the semiconductor more consistent.”
Explore further: Researchers discover N-type polymer for fast organic battery
More information: Daniele Di Nuzzo, et al “How intermolecular geometrical disorder affects the molecular doping of donor–acceptor copolymers” is published in Nature Communications 6, Article number: 6460 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7460