Engineering Materials and Applications
Expertise of the research group :
EMAP, Engineering Materials & APplications is linked to the faculty of engineering technology in the domains of electronics, electro-mechanics and electrochemical engineering. EMAP is translating different research targets from ''lab scale'' towards ''industry ready''. Its applied research topics are in close collaboration with industrial partners. The applied research is situated within five domains:
Biomedical Device Engineering, headed by prof. dr. ir. R. Thoelen
Functional materials manufacturing, headed by prof. dr. ir. W. Deferme
Energy systems engineering, headed by prof. dr. ir. M. Daenen
Thin film photovoltaics, headed by prof. dr. B.Vermang
Electrochemical systems, headed by prof. dr. ir. M. Safari
In the domain of advanced diagnostics, the group Biomedical Device Engineering' focuses on research on the development of "dedicated" measuring platforms that can process the signals of sensors with sufficient precision and speed in order the translate each impedance, thermal or optical based biosensor, into a fully functional point-of-care system. The applied research is done is close collaboration with the industry and applied in different fields ranging from health(care) to food industry.
Another research topic is that of Functional Materials Engineering. Using different printing and coating processes, such as inkjet printing, screen printing or ultrasonic spraycoating, inks can be deposited onto a wide range of substrates (from glass over foils towards textile and paper. The inks have another functionality than "just color". They can be made conductive to be used as interconnects, RFID antennas or electrodes for opto-electronic applications. Other inks can have the property to absorb light and can be used for the development of organic solar cells, in combination with the above mentioned conductive electrodes. Also light emitting inks are printed and coated and can be used, when a voltage is applied, to send out light. To research focus is on the combination of inks, substrates and printing/coating technology to achieve functional devices such as sensors for healthcare applications, light emitting devices, conductive electrodes and (organic) solar cells.
The third topic concerns photovoltaics (PV) and energy storage (battery) installations. Besides the fundamental research towards the materials for PV and batteries, from the engineering side, we are looking at applications. How can know-how from fundamental research be applied to determine PV reliability from cell level up to an entire installation with converters maw powerpoint tracking and storage of energy. Here we look into the entire energy conversion chain, combined with energy storage solutions. The primary interest lies in the reliability of all the components in these systems. Various techniques are used to investigate lifetime and efficiency of these composing parts, such as NDT by thermography, accelerated life cycle testing and multiphysics simulation of components and entire installations.
There is also a strong focus on the development of – mainly chalcogenide – thin film photovoltaics (PV), where the key targets are to provide innovation in terms of PV materials and solar cell architectures. PV material innovation focuses on the development, characterization and optimization of new PV materials, e.g. for emerging PV free of critical raw materials (CRM) or (semi-)transparent PV windows. Solar cell innovation focuses on the development of advanced three-dimensional thin film solar cell concepts (stemming from silicon PV), and high-efficiency tandem approaches. The team has dedicated state-of-the-art processing facilities for fabrication and characterization of thin-film devices and modules, at EnergyVille and Solliance.
Electrochemical systems such as batteries, super-capacitors, and fuel cells are playing an important role in the future of energy systems. The essence of the scientific approach in the subgroup of electrochemical engineering (EE) is based on the coupling of experiments and physics-based modelling in order to gain in-depth yet quantitative understanding of the electrochemical systems. Electrochemical energy storage systems (e.g. Li-ion) from component to cell level, are the main subject of the research in the EE group. The topics vary in a broad range of fundamental to applied research questions and include:
1) porous-electrode engineering & optimization;
2) charge and heat transport phenomena inside the porous electrodes and electrolytes;
3) electronic/ionic percolation in the cell sandwich layer;
4) cell assembly, scale up, and study of the size effects;
5) aging, reliability, and end-of-life simulations.
More info can be found on the website of Energyville