Ph.D. graduate Bram Hoex and research group Plasma & Materials Processing (PMP) of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e, The Netherlands) have been awarded the Leverhulme Technology Transfer Award 2008. They receive the prize (€ 7,000 for Hoex and € 63,000 for the research group) for their successful transfer of research results from academia to industry. Earlier this year Hoex's Ph.D. research was rewarded with the SolarWorld Junior Einstein Award.
The TU/e-researchers were awarded for the successful transfer of two technological innovations from PMP to OTB Solar, an Eindhoven based company that supplies equipment for the manufacturing of solar cells. The first was the introduction of anti-reflection and passivation coatings for silicon solar cells. The innovations of Hoex and colleagues lead to the introduction of a new type of OTB Solar machine: the DEPx. This is now being used worldwide by leading solar cell manufacturers.
The second key finding, realised during Hoex's Ph.D. research, was the introduction of an additional reflection and passivation coating at the rear of the solar cell. Both innovations have been patented by PMP and OTB Solar.
During his Ph.D. research, Hoex spent one day a week at OTB Solar. This was part of the ongoing cooperative partnership between the PMP group and OTB Solar, in the field of thin-film deposition. This is one of the specialties of the PMP group. OTB Solar licenses a PMP plasma technology for the deposition of thin films. This technique is a key component of the DEPx tool of OTB Solar, and it plays an important role in the manufacturing process of state-of-the-art solar cells.
The post Hoex undertook galvanized a strongly symbiotic cohesion between OTB Solar and TU/e. Hoex, who graduated last May, served as a liaison between both parties. He looked after both the scientific interests of PMP and the commercial interest of OTB Solar.
The Leverhulme Trust, that presented this prize, is a foundation managing the heritage of British Viscount Leverhulme. The foundation awards up to five prizes annually for Dutch (Ph.D.) research with applications in businesses.