If you don’t drive an electric vehicle (EV) yet, you probably will soon. With more and more automakers going green, producing new EVs that promise greater performance and increased driving range, your next truck, sports car or crossover sport utility vehicle, is likely to be electric. But there’s a catch to this bold new world of EVs.
Whether advancing military defense technologies or space programs, rare earth elements (REEs) are crucial to innovations in flight. Ceramics containing the rare earth element cerium, for example, are central to the U.S. Space Shuttle program. Rare Earth Technology Alliance
The demand for indium could intensify significantly if thin-film materials relying on this element—specifically, copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) and III-V thin-films—become preferred photovoltaic (PV) materials. National Renewable Energy Lab
A group of scientists at the University of Leuven in Belgium has developed a novel method for the recovery and separation of two rare earth elements – europium and yttrium – from fluorescent lamps and low-energy light bulbs.http://www.sci-news.com
A number of chemical elements that were once laboratory curiosities now figure prominently in new technologies like wind turbines, solar energy collectors, and electric cars. If widely deployed, such inventions have the capacity to transform how we produce, transmit, store, or conserve energy. To meet U.S. energy needs and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, novel energy systems must be scaled from laboratory, to demonstration, to widespread deployment. American Physics Society
In the fast-moving world of transportation, everything from minivans to drones benefits from the inclusion of rare earth elements. The benefits range from better fuel efficiency to pollution reduction. Rare Earth Technology Alliance
Precious metals may seem unlikely as engineering materials, but the same expensive metals used for coinage and jewelry also satisfy applications requiring the ultimate in corrosion resistance or electrical conductivity – Machine Design
What’s in your stuff? Most of us give no thought to the materials that make modern life possible. Yet technologies such as smartphones, electric vehicles, large screen TVs and green energy generation depend on a range of chemical elements that most people have never heard of. Until the late 20th century, many were regarded as mere curiosities – but now they are essential. In fact, a mobile phone contains over a third of the elements in the periodic table. World Economic Forum
On the left is a scaled diagram of a conventional inkjet printer drop compared to a femtoliter drop from the SIJ printer funded by JCDream. Using such small drops, this new tool can produce the same device using 10,000 times less material in devices that can be transparent to the human eye and be transparent to sunlight in a solar panel.
“We can’t wait to see the impact of this revolutionary additive manufacturing tool in the Testbeds thanks to JCDREAM,” said MacKenzie, Washington Research Foundation Professor of Clean Energy. “Our users can print electronics using sustainable materials with finer control than ever before, and it will directly enable UW and industrial researchers to develop a sustainable alternative for a crucial element of flexible thin-film solar cells, displays and touch screens. This printer, the first of its kind in the world, can also be used to make improved sensors and higher power batteries.”
UW models have shown that electrodes made of earth-abundant materials can be patterned with micron-scale features — smaller than can be seen by the human eye — to make them competitive with vacuum-deposited conventional ITO electrodes. MacKenzie’s research group can now create this alternative using the advanced capabilities of the JCDREAM-funded printer, as conventional inkjet electronics printers are limited to 20-50 micron features. The UW team has already demonstrated printing of conductive electrodes from nanoparticle metal inks at <2 micron in linewidth. That’s about one quarter the size of a single red blood cell. They will develop copper-based transparent electrodes with nanoscale features that will match or exceed the conductivity and transparency of conventional ITO electrodes. The additive printing process will also eliminate the etching process, reducing negative environmental impacts of the runoff as well as the amount of starting raw material.
Ultimately, MacKenzie’s group aims to create a pathway to sustainable, scalable manufacturing of thin-film solar cells. Currently, indium is a limiting factor for thin-film solar cells due to its cost, toxicity, and long environmental life cycle. The copper-based transparent electrodes could also be used in flat-panel TVs, smartphones, and car windshields. Along with the copper-based alternative to indium electrodes that his group is developing, MacKenzie believes that the revolutionary printing system will enable sustainable solutions for batteries, sensors, fuel cells, and catalysts that rely on lithium, palladium, and cobalt. Staff scientists from the WCET and MacKenzie’s group at UW have already trained more then 10 external users, bringing in startup companies and academic users developing new solar, sensors, and electronics technologies from Silicon Valley, Stanford, CalTech and Berkeley as well as local manufacturing companies. UW research on the tool has already begun using this new capability to print new optical ‘metasurfaces’, films that can be made into ultrathin lenses and elements of optical computing. The tool has also been used to create early prototypes of quantum materials as part of a drive to establish a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center to create “Modern Optoelectronic Materials on Demand”.
“As a cleantech-focused facility that serves academic researchers, startups, and developed companies, the Testbeds are a perfect guidepost for JCDREAM’s mission,” said JCDREAM’s interim executive director David Field. “Our relationship with the Testbeds and other state-supported institutes is crucial to our success. We can’t wait to see the sustainably-sourced and sustainably-produced electronics that Testbeds users will create with this printer.”
JCDREAM is a research collaborative between Washington State University, UW, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, with additional involvement from academic, government, and industrial institutes in the state that are involved in education, research, or manufacturing. It was established in 2015 to stimulate innovation in the use of earth-abundant materials alongside Washington state’s strong clean energy and transportation industries. The upgrade to the Testbeds is just one element of JCDREAM’s program of research, development, deployment, and training, with the goal of national leadership on the challenge posed by unsustainable use of resources and rare earth minerals.
Top left: Professor J. Devin Mackenzie with the roll-to-roll printer at the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds.
Top right: The R&D printer developed at Japan’s AIST and SIJ Technologies being installed in the Testbeds.
Bottom left: a microscope image of printed metal lines 1.75 and 2 micron wide that are so small they are invisible to the naked eye.
Bottom right: A larger custom multinozzle version is being prototyped now and the multinozzle heads will enable integration with flatbed and roll-to-roll printers for the first time.
Dwayne Arola: email@example.com
University of Washington
Materials Science & Engineering
That’s the capability of the new state-of-the-art metal 3-D printing system developed by EOS and recently acquired by UW. A team of engineering faculty, led by PI Dwayne Arola, secured funding from JCDream and the EOS company to purchase the system. In tandem with existing technology on campus, the system will supply students with unique access to the latest metal manufacturing techniques, making them uniquely prepared to tackle problems in the workforce.
The system uses Selective Laser Melting (SLM) to produce extremely high quality metal components from metal powders such as aluminum, nickel and titanium alloys. Components are produced according to a layer-by-layer fabrication, in which each layer of powder is selectively melted by a high power laser beam according to the desired part geometry.
SLM and other 3-D additive manufacturing processes have generated great interest among engineers because they remove the usual design constraints. In traditional manufacturing methods, engineers must create designs using simple geometric shapes. 3-D additive manufacturing opens up the possibilities. “This method of manufacturing lets you develop shapes that would be otherwise impossible,” says Arola, associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering. “You can create a shape that has almost unlimited geometry.” This freedom, he says, “has captured the imagination of many engineers.”
Because the 3-D printing additive manufacturing process is so new, most manufacturers don’t know how best to utilize it. What’s more, the expense of acquiring a system and doing research is generally prohibitive. That’s where the UW comes in: companies will be able to access the printer for research. The acquisition of the new printer complements a second 3-D additive manufacturing printer, which uses electron beam melting, acquired in 2018. “If we even had one of these printers, it would be a dream,” says Arola. “With access to both systems, students will be able to learn cutting edge skills and gain insight into how the technology functions. Companies are trying to figure out which system best suits their needs; our students will have the answers.”
“Being exposed to this technology, and having the opportunity to transform a design from a digital model to an actual real composite part, will provide unprecedented opportunity for our students to be competitive in the job market,” says Marco Salviato, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics.
The new printer will also facilitate inter-department collaboration at UW, allowing faculty to achieve more ambitious research goals. For example, aeronautics and astronautics engineers know how to design structures that fulfill the requirements of their field, while materials science engineers understand the materials science aspects of additive manufacturing. Their collaborative research, says Arola, will now not merely be theoretical. “We will do more than just talk – we can print.”
Mark Bussell: firstname.lastname@example.org
Western Washington University
College of Science & Engineering
With a $93,000 grant from the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials (JCDREAM), Western Washington University has purchased and recently installed a Rigaku MiniFlex 6G X-ray diffractometer for the structural analysis of earth-abundant materials. WWU provided $30,000 in matching funds to support the purchase of the MiniFlex 6G diffractometer, which is a tabletop instrument optimized for rapid structural analysis of powdered materials important for clean energy and geologic materials research. The diffractometer uses a beam X-ray to probe the positions of atoms within the structure of crystalline materials, yielding information on the purity, phase composition and crystallite size of a wide range of materials. According to WWU Professor Mark Bussell, the principal investigator on the grant, the MiniFlex 6G diffractometer has dramatically increased the throughput of structural analysis by students and faculty at WWU, as well as community college partners like Whatcom Community College.
An example research project in which the MiniFlex 6G diffractometer plays a key role is the structural analysis of newly developed photocatalysts for solar fuels production. The photocatalysts, composed of indium and gallium phosphides and oxides, are showing promise for converting carbon dioxide (CO2) to solar fuels such as methanol (CH3OH) under simulated sunlight without the use of precious metals such as platinum or palladium. One photocatalyst formulation under investigation In Professor Bussell’s laboratory consists of indium phosphide (InP) nanoparticles anchored onto titanium dioxide (TiO2) as shown schematically in Figure 2. X-ray diffraction analysis of the InP/TiO2 photocatalyst (Figure 3) confirms the crystalline nature and phase purity of the InP and TiO2 components and allows determination of the InP crystallite size to be 22 nanometers in diameter.
The MiniFlex 6G X-ray diffractometer is currently being used by 12 different users in 7 research groups at WWU as well as one lab group from Whatcom Community College. In addition to its use in research, the X-ray diffractometer will be used in laboratory courses at WWU and Whatcom CC starting in Fall 2019 with remote usage by students at Peninsula College in the planning stages.
Top Left: Figure 1. WWU M.S. student Daniel Korus loading a sample of CuInS2/ZnS core-shell quantum dots into the Rigaku MiniFlex 6G X-ray diffractometer.
Top Right: Figure 2.Schematic representation of an InP/TiO2 photocatalyst composed of InP nanoparticles anchored to a TiO2 support material.
Bottom Left: Figure 3. (Left) X-ray diffraction pattern of an InP/TiO2 photocatalyst along with reference patterns for InP and the TiO2 support material. (Right) WWU Professor Mark Bussell and Whatcom Community College student Sam Baldwin analyzing the X-ray diffraction pattern of a nanocrystalline TiO2 support material.