News

New Guide Available: Green OPV Solvents

Posted on Tue, Aug 14, 2018

Despite continuous improvement in the efficiencies of lab-scale organic solar cells, most devices still use aromatic halogenated solvents to dissolve active layers. Whilst good for making efficient solar cells, solvents of this type are subject to stricter regulation as they often have negative effects on the environment and human health.

This leads to a situation where the advantages of organic photovoltaics (OPVs) - low production cost and low environmental hazards - cannot be fully realised, because they clash with the disadvantages of halogenated solvents. 

 

Structures of traditional halogenated solvents, non-halogenated alternatives, and solvent additives.

 

Fortunately, this can be resolved by using environmentally-benign 'green'  solvents - a term used to describe non-halogenated solvents. The environmental accumulation of 'green' solvents is easier to manage, making them preferable for large-scale OPV manufacture.

Our latest guide - "Green Solvents for Organic Photovoltaics" explores the challenges of using 'green' solvents, explains what their use looks like in practice, and what the future might hold for environmentally-benign OPV systems.


World-leading Exciplex Layers Created by Ossila's PhD Student

Posted on Wed, Aug 01, 2018

Massive congratulations to our Excilight PhD student, Marco Collela on the publication of his recent paper: "Solution processable small molecule based TADF exciplex OLEDs (Colella, Pander, & Monkman, 2018)". Marco worked as part of a research team from Durham University. Whilst carrying out scientific research for this paper at Ossila, Marco was primarily supervised by our Senior Systems Engineer, Dr. Nick Scarratt.

 

Marco - Ossila PhD student from Excilight
Marco, Ossila's Excilight PhD student.

 

This paper has demonstrated the suitability of using small-molecule TADF exciplexes as solution-processable emissive layers for OLEDS.

 

The effects of the following variables on device performance were studied:

i) EML thickness

ii) DCz- DBTO2:TAPC ratio 

 

Specifically,  the devices studied were prepared from chlorobenzene, chloroform, and a 5:95 vol% blend of chlorobenzene:chloroform. It was found that with the solvent blend, results obtained were comparable to those obtained via evaporation deposition in terms of brightness, current efficiency, power efficiency and EQE. The best results obtained from this piece of research are 27.5 ± 3.5 cd/A, 16.5 ± 2.0 lm/W and EQE of 8.9 ± 0.6 % at the same DCz-DBTO2:TAPC wt% ratio of 30:70. 

 


Materials & Equipment Used in This Paper

Several materials and equipment from Ossila were used in this paper. They are available for purchase if you require them for your own research needs.


Interview with Our Award-Winning Student Employees!

Posted on Fri, Jul 13, 2018

Recently, a couple of our hardworking student employees - Dhilan Devadasan & Máté Lukács -  won a National award for UK Student Employee of the Year (SEOTY) in their role as Manufacturing Engineers at Ossila. They very kindly took the time to have a chat with us so you can get to know them better! 

 

Ossila's award-winning student employees - SEOTY 2018
National award winners for UK Student Employee of the Year in the Commercial Impact (Off-Campus) category. L-R: Máté & Dhilan.

 

In this casual interview, they share details on what their typical day on the job looks like, the skills they have picked up on the way, give some valuable advice, and talk about their hobbies!

 

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

Dhilan: My day usually starts by identifying any outstanding orders and what needs to be put together. Whilst I'm building things, I keep track of component stock levels - so there is also a stock management aspect to my role. Sometimes, I also train new employees.

Máté: I start by making a plan for the day in my notebook. Sometimes, my manager will have emailed me a brief plan beforehand - but if not,  we'll have a quick meeting. From there, I'll be either building or running diagnostic tests to check if a product has met quality control specifications before it gets approved to be shipped out. I also troubleshoot any product issues that arise, making sure that the same problem doesn't happen twice. Dhilan and I also continuously learn from each other - we're always training each other!

 

SEOTY 2018 Regional Winners - Ossila
The most popular piece of equipment that Máté & Dhilan work on - the Ossila Spin Coater.

 

How have you been able to balance your studies whilst working part-time?

D: Well, the job is completely flexible, so I am able to arrange my work hours around my university schedule. Our manager is very understanding, and has always believed that studies should be the priority. He does well by planning ahead for when we can't be at work for extended periods (e.g. exam season).

M: Working part-time helped me to get better at managing my studies. I've learned that you don't need more time, you just need to use your time wisely. Time constraints are often stricter at work - my work affects other people's work, which will ultimately impact the customers - so I stopped procrastinating! 

For this role, I was required to read some books that had helpful tips I could apply not only at work - but also in a 3rd-year university module on Manufacturing Technology & Systems. This helped me get better grades for that assignment, as I was able to look at things from a costing perspective. Similarly, what I learnt from the university module helped me do better at work, as I could apply my theoretical knowledge to practice.

 

SEOTY 2018 Winners - Ossila
With their National Award trophy at the 2018 SEOTY Awards Night in Cardiff (5th July 2018).

 

What valuable career skills have you developed while working at Ossila?

D: Communication skills. If there are any issues with a piece of equipment, I have to relay them to the R&D team. Additionally, when I come across stock that needs to be ordered, I let my manager (and other relevant persons) know. As my role involves task delegation and ensuring that there is a coherent work flow between different people working on different aspects of a product, this has helped build my teamwork skills.

Lastly, the stock management aspect of my role has definitely improved my organisation skills. I also have to coordinate with my other team members in arranging my work schedule, so that we can plan our days better.

M: My confidence in putting ideas forward has grown because I have seen how my ideas have had a tangible effect at work. Here, even if your ideas fail, there are other employees who have the professional experience and knowledge to support and push that idea forward in a different way.  Working here has also taught me what having a sense of ownership looks and feels like. I have more responsibility because anything that I work on will have Ossila's signature on it! 

 

 

What advice would you give to future student employees at Ossila?

D: Don't be afraid to try new things, as you never know what you'll like or dislike until you try it yourself! For example, SMD soldering is something that most people don't enjoy because it's a slow process that requires patience. However, one of my team members tried it for the first time recently and discovered that they really enjoyed it!

I'd also say don't be afraid to go beyond your contract-defined role, as there are opportunities for you to really develop as a person and build new skills. You could also make a huge difference to the company! Being an SME, the culture here very much encourages cross-functionality. There is room for you to carve out your role and your own path in the company.  

M:  When you're learning how to work on something new, the outcome is more important than the time spent on it. I used to worry that I was taking too long when I was first starting out. However, my manager told me that if it meant a customer would be happy with the outcome, it would be worth it!

Ask lots of questions as a new employee, but it's also good to try and come up with a solution yourself first - don't be scared to suggest new solutions and present ideas from a different perspective.

 

Ossila's award-winning student employees in the workshop
Putting their good manual dexterity to use in the workshop.

 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

D: I love the outdoors, so I like going to the Peaks, or bouldering. I also enjoy nights out and socialising. For good food, I like the Peddler Food Markets and Nottingham House pub (especially the lamb & feta pie)!

M:  I work on various student engineering projects - this is my actual hobby! I've worked on projects that involve building a lunar rover, high-quality telescope for near-space altitudes (where atmosphere is < 1%), and constructing a functional single-engine, two-seater 1920s aircraft. Aside from that, I am passionate about fountain pens! It started when my brother gave me a really nice pen. I enjoy studying the way they work with different inks and capillary action.

 


New Guide Available: Introduction to Organic Photovoltaics

Posted on Tue, Jul 10, 2018
Laboratory OPV cells manufactured on glass.

 

In recent years, organic photovoltaics (OPVs) have been in the spotlight due to their many promising qualities. In collaboration with University of Sheffield PhD student Emma Spooner, Ossila have just published a new guide - Organic Photovoltaics: An Introduction.

This guide will teach you the fundamentals of OPVs - such as what they are, how they work, and their development so far. It also covers slightly more intermediate topics, like OPV fabrication/characterisation, limitations on efficiency, and hot topics regarding the future of OPVs.  

 


Dip Coater in Development

Posted on Wed, May 30, 2018

 

Over the past year, we've been paying close attention to what our customers really want - and the majority of you have requested a wider range of coating equipment! As such, following on from the popular Ossila Slot-Die Coater, our team of engineers have been working hard to develop our next piece of thin-film coating equipment – the Ossila Dip Coater.

Dip coating is one of the most popular methods in scientific research for coating substrates with thin layers of material. The advantage of dip coating is that it is capable of coating all sides of a substrate at the same time. It can also be used in various applications - ranging from semiconductors, self-assembled monolayers, layer-by-layer nano assemblies, biomedical coatings, sol-gel coatings, and many more.

Dip coating relies upon the steady withdrawal of a substrate from solution. The meniscus that forms at the interface (and how it interacts with the substrate, air, and solution) will determine the thickness and film structure after drying. With dip coating, the film thickness can be controlled simply by changing the withdrawal speed and solution properties (such as solvent evaporation rates and solid content of the solution).

 

Dip Coater Prototype
Prototype of the Ossila Dip Coater.

The Ossila Dip Coater has nearly completed its first stage of prototyping, where we have taken it from a simple idea on paper and developed a full computer model of the prospective system. This was then developed into a working prototype that was evaluated by our applications scientists, engineers, and safety experts to determine if any additional changes should be made to the system. This initial model has been moved into our laboratory to rigorously test the system's performance under various circumstances. We are also making coatings of our most commonly-used materials to test the system's real-world applications.

 

Dip Coating Meniscus
A dip-coating meniscus.

 

With its easy-to-use software, the Ossila Dip Coater gives you control of the immersion speed, dwell time, withdrawal speed (both fixed and variable across the substrates length), drying time, and number of cycles. Additionally, its precision linear stage allows you to have speeds from as low as 1mm/min to as high as 3000mm/min, offering a wide range of potential thicknesses for your deposited material - whilst maintaining a high degree of precision and accuracy.*

Over the next few months, we hope to release more information on the theory and technical aspects of dip coating, as well as information on the final specifications and price. The Ossila Dip Coater is scheduled for release in Q3 of 2018. For more information on the initial specifications or any other questions, please feel free to contact us at info@ossila.com.

*Product specifications are subject to change during the development of the product.

 


Ossila's Student Employees Win Regional SEOTY Award

Posted on Thu, May 17, 2018

We are happy to announce that two of our student employees - Máté Lukacs & Dhilan Devadasan - have won a Regional award for Student Employee of the Year in the Commercial Impact category!

 

Ossila's Student Employee of the Year winners (Mate & Dhilan, centre)
Regional Student Employee of the Year winners Máté & Dhilan (centre) with Ian (L) & Ashley (R) from Ossila.

 

The Student Employee of the Year Awards (SEOTY) have been held annually in the UK since 2002. They are the UK's largest student awards, recognising the outstanding contributions and achievements of students who excel at combining their studies and part-time work responsibilities. To show our support for Dhilan & Máté, several members of the Ossila team attended the 2018 Sheffield SEOTY Celebration Awards at the University of Sheffield on the 15th of May 2018.

 

Dhilan & Máté are a team of Manufacturing Engineers at Ossila. Initially, they were hired as Workshop Assistants. However, their extraordinary appetite for efficiency completely reformulated their original roles, as well as how the manufacturing team has operated since they started working here.

 

Dhilan & Máté, Student Employee of the Year 2018 winners from Ossila
Dhilan & Máté with their certificates.

 

They have brought about significant positive changes to the processes they work with, and this has contributed to the company's growth. It is for this reason that they have won the SEOTY Award for Commercial Impact in the North East UK region. Winning at the Regional level means that they will go on to compete at the National SEOTY Awards, which will be held this summer.

 

Dhilan & Mate being interviewed after winning Student Employee of the Year 2018 for the North East Region
Kate from the University of Sheffield interviews Dhilan & Máté after they win Student Employee of the Year 2018 for the North East Region.

 

Heartiest congratulations to Máté & Dhilan! Everyone at Ossila is extremely proud of their success, and we are fully confident that they will continue to achieve great things after graduation. All of our student employees are brilliant and we cannot thank them enough for their dedication and hard work. We hope to carry on providing job opportunities for students to help them develop crucial skills for the working world!

 

 


Ryta's Product-Development Secondment

Posted on Mon, May 14, 2018

If you've been keeping up with our recent blogposts, you may already know that Ossila have a collaborative partnership with the EU-funded Excilight Innovative Training Network (ITN) programme. As part of this collaboration, we host Excilight PhD students on secondments - the most recent one being Ryta! Throughout her secondment, she has been carrying out research & development activities to scope the feasibility of a new product. Now that her secondment has just been completed, we want to share what she's been working on so far.

 

Ryta Vasylieva, Excilight PhD student on secondment at Ossila
Ryta working in the Ossila labs.

 

Before joining Excilight, what were you working on?

Before Excilight, I worked on several scientific projects during my time at university. My work focused on the investigation of polymer composites that can be used to treat skin burns. I studied proteins, particularly protein-protein interactions. I also worked on some R&D projects.

 

How would you describe your Excilight experience so far?

I changed my field of interest (and a lot of other things in my life), so my experience in Excilight has centred on studying the basic fundamental materials for OLED devices.  I am based at the Silesian University of Technology in Poland, and I study the behaviour of molecules in electric fields.  Throughout the past 2 years, I have learned new methods of analysis and gained considerable knowledge in the field of materials science. Being a part of Excilight has given me the opportunity to network, gaining many friends & collaborators in the field. This also helped improve my communication skills. Furthermore, I've managed to improve the way I present my scientific results.

 

Source Measure Unit | Ossila
The Ossila Source-Measure Unit.

 

Tell us about the work that you’ve been doing here during your secondment at Ossila.

My secondment consists of two parts: business skills training, and participating in the research and development of new products based on an existing Ossila product.

During the first part of my secondment, I learned the main principles of creating the project. I also learned other practical things, such as what to do to make your project more successful, how find new development opportunities for your project, how to find a niche, how to make a business plan, amongst others.

The second part leaned more towards the engineering side of things. I have been involved in the scoping and development of new features for one of Ossila’s current products. Previously, I worked with this type of equipment as a user, and now I have the opportunity to act as a creator - which is very interesting and exciting!

 

What have you enjoyed most about living in Sheffield?

Sheffield is a small and beautiful city. There are lots of parks around, it’s easy to get around using public transport and is well-connected with other cities. You can go somewhere, spend the weekend visiting beautiful new places, and get back to work easily.

 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a PhD in your field?

There is a wide range of applications in the field of organic electronics. Development in this field is really fast-paced, so being able to adapt quickly is an essential skill for researchers to have. Thanks to strong collaborations between industry and academia, this field has a promising outlook.  A PhD in this field could be an important investment towards your future, as it is likely to provide you with opportunities to work in academia or industry. 


Price Reductions: Perovskite Precursor Inks

Posted on Wed, Apr 25, 2018

If you've always wanted to try using our perovskite precursor inks in your research, now is the perfect time to do so! Thanks to the scaling of our ink-manufacturing processes, our production costs have been reduced. As a result, we are able to pass these great savings on to our customers!

 

 

We have dropped the price of these 2 inks from £199 to £150 for 5ml (each), and from £895 to £675 for 30ml of ink (each):

  1. I101: Perovskite Precursor Ink (for air processing)
  2. I201: Perovskite Precursor Ink (for nitrogen processing)

Both inks are specially formulated for deposition via spin-coating. Kick-start your perovskite photovoltaic research with these inks today!

 


Ossila Wins Prestigious Queen's Award for International Trade

Posted on Sat, Apr 21, 2018
Queen's Award for International Trade 2018 - Ossila Ltd

Sheffield UK, 21st April 2018: Ossila Ltd is pleased to announce that it has been granted a Queen’s Award for Enterprise – the UK’s most prestigious award for business performance. The Awards are granted annually by Her Majesty The Queen, based on the recommendations of the Prime Minister, together with an Advisory Committee of representatives from government, industry, commerce and trade unions.

 

The Queen’s Award recognises Ossila's outstanding continuous growth in global sales over the past six years. Established in 2009, Ossila was founded to provide a dedicated, specialist supply chain for scientists and engineers. This led to the development of Ossila's solar cell prototyping platform – a coherent collection of substrates, materials and test equipment that enables the production of high-quality, functional solar cells that can be used to advance research into renewable energy devices.

 

Serving a niche global market, Ossila has now exported to over 80 countries, with more than 80% of its total turnover attributed to overseas sales. Following high sales growth in the USA, South Korea, India, and Germany, Ossila has recently expanded its UK operations and manufacturing capacity, moving to larger premises and tripling its workforce over recent years. Ossila also invests heavily in its own innovative research and provides industrial support to various academic collaborators.

 

 Ossila Ltd Board Directors
Co-founders of Ossila Ltd (L-R): Dr. Alastair Buckley, Dr. James Kingsley, & Prof. David Lidzey

 

Dr. James Kingsley, Managing Director and co-founder of Ossila, said: “This award is a tremendous honour for all of us at Ossila. We started out - almost a decade ago - aiming to provide solar cell researchers with a trustworthy and efficient platform that would not only speed up the pace of scientific discovery, but also save them time and money. Thanks to the dedication of the Ossila team, overseas sales are a major growth area for us. We are excited to see what the future brings for Ossila and how our efforts are contributing to advances in the wider field of renewable energy.”

 

Representatives from Ossila will attend an official Awards Reception hosted by members of the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace later this year.

 

 


New Guest Post: Coding for New Researchers

Posted on Tue, Apr 17, 2018

This is the final post in the series titled "A PhD Student Condenses...", written by one of Ossila's academic collaborators, Emma Spooner (a PhD student at the University of Sheffield). Previous posts in this series focused on condensing & reviewing recent academic articles in materials science. However, this post is unlike the rest. Instead, Emma will be sharing her thoughts and dishing out some advice on a topic that should be relevant to many new researchers - coding!

 

Basic 3D surface plot, generated with matplotlib module in Python
An example of a basic 3D surface plot generated using the 'matplotlib' module in Python.

 

Coding can be an intimidating topic for many new researchers - especially to those who don't have a background in Physics. There are so many questions to start with - what programme to use? How can I start learning? How do I process large datasets? This article aims to help you navigate the world of beginner-level coding for researchers! 

The full article written by Emma Spooner can be found here - A PhD Student Condenses: Coding for New Researchers.

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