Berkeley Lab

Saving electronic materials with antioxidants and managing pivots in industry

Antioxidants have long been talked about in the health sector, but did you know they can also protect flexible electronics materials from damage? Brooke Kuei from Penn State uses electron microscopy to understand molecular scale assembly of semiconducting polymers that are used to make organic electronic devices including solar cells and OLEDs. However, the electron beams used to image these materials causes damage, making it nearly impossible to see the features that this type of microscopy is intended to visualize in the first place. Brooke implements antioxidants to scavenge the damage-causing species. This greatly reduces damage and allows her to use the electron microscopes at NCEM and see the assembly of these materials down to the Angstrom-level length-scale and gain insights for improving these materials even more.

The Molecular Foundry’s expertise and capabilities not only serve academic researchers, but can also inspire the creation of new companies. Lauren Otto, CEO and founder of Laminera, began working at the Foundry during her graduate studies at the University of Minnesota. Through her expertise and development of atomic layer deposition methods at the nanofabrication facility at the Foundry, and knowledge of the the needs of industry, Lauren took her ideas and founded Laminera. Laminera focuses on developing new deposition methods for conductive ceramics, for example titanium nitride, to stabilize gold nanostructures and enable next-generation data storage. The goals of a company often change, and Laminera has pivoted between atomic layer deposition to development of new vacuum equipment. Lauren brought attention to the importance of a respectful work environment, specifically with regards to the experiences of women in science and maintaining a harassment-free workplace, highlighting the need for improvements in inclusion, diversity, equity, and accountability so everyone can contribute to the best of their ability.