Excitonics for Transparent Photovoltaics and Concentrators

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 3:30pm

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

3:30 pm - MSU Bioeconomy Institute Auditorium (MAP)

The MSU Bioeconomy Institute speaker series is free, accessible and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. Please call (517) 432-4499 for special accomodation. No RSVP required.

Excitonics for Transparent Photovoltaics and Concentrators

The MSU Bioeconomy Institute welcomes Richard R. Lunt, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University, to the Holland campus to discuss:

Room-temperature excitonic materials offer new opportunities for low-cost photovoltaic (PV) systems and provide prospects for unique solar harvesting science and applications.

In this presentation, Lunt will introduce his team's pioneering work on developing transparent PV and solar concentrator materials, which are creating new paradigms for building integrated solar harvesting and autonomous mobile electronics.

These devices are specifically enabled by the manipulation of excitonic semiconductor materials and inorganic nanoclusters with selective and tuneable harvesting in the near-infrared and ultraviolet components of the solar spectrum.

Lunt will describe the development of key photophysical properties, outline the thermodynamic and practical limits to these new classes of materials and devices, and discuss their commercialization for a range of applications

Learn more about the Lunt Lab.

Watch a brief highlight video.


Richard R. Lunt is assistant professor at Michigan State University, where his group focuses on understanding and exploiting excitonic photophysics and molecular crystal growth to develop unique thin-film optoelectronic devices.

He earned his B.ChE. with Honors and Distinction from the University of Delaware in 2004 and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University in 2010. He then worked as a post-doctoral researcher at MIT until 2011.

His work has been featured in Nature, NY Times, Huffington Post, CNN, CBS, and NBC News, among others, and his innovative research has earned him a number of prestigious awards including the NSF CAREER Award, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Mentor Award in Environmental Chemistry, the DuPont Young Investigator Award, and the GPEC Solar Innovation Award. He has 15 patents, the majority of which have been licensed, and recently received the MSU Innovation of Year Award for his development of transparent photovoltaics.

He is also a founder of Ubiquitous Energy Inc., which is commercializing a range of seamless light-harvesting technologies. 

Critical Assessment of Polyhydroxyalkanoate Technology

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - 3:30pm

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

3:30 MSU Bioeconomy Institute Auditorium (MAP)

The MSU Bioeconomy Institute speaker series is free, accessible and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. Please call (517) 432-4499 for special accommodation. No RSVP required.

Patrick B. Smith, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
Michigan Molecular Institute, Midland, Mich.

Critical Assessment of Polyhydroxyalkanoate Technology

There have been several attempts to commercialize poly(hydroxyalkanoate)s (PHA) over the past 3 decades, and commercial activities continue to this day. 

PHA materials are actually a class of 3-hydroxybutyrate copolymers made by bacterial fermentation. Engineered bacteria, such as e-coli, produce copolymers within their cell wall of up to 80 percent of their mass, having molecular weights of several million. The microbiology of these systems is truly remarkable. This seminar will focus on the properties of these materials, the hurdles impeding their commercialization and prospects for the future.


Patrick B. Smith is a research scientist at the Michigan Molecular Institute. He received a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Michigan State University and then spent the next 30 years with The Dow Chemical Company, rising to the rank of Fellow prior to his retirement in 2007. 

During his time with Dow, he served with Cargill Dow Polymers (which became NatureWorks) which launched the IngeoTM PLA line of products. After his retirement from Dow, he consulted with Archer Daniels Midland acting as ADM’s R&D leader for their joint venture with Metabolix that commercialized MirelTM PHA bio-polymers. He also supported ADM’s biobased propylene glycol product launch. 

He is currently a research assistant professor at Michigan State University, an adjunct professor at Central Michigan University and a member of the American Chemical Society (2005 Midland Section Chair). He received the Midland Chapter Sigma Xi Award in 1987 and the Midland Chapter ACS Award for Outstanding Achievement and Promotion of the Chemical Sciences in 1998. He was named an ACS Fellow in 2013 and received the ACS Ann Nalley Award in 2014. He is also the recipient of Dow Analytical Science’s V. A. Stenger Award in 1984 and the Dow Michigan R&D Scientists’ Award in 1994.

He has co-authored nearly 500 Dow technical reports and 85 publications, and holds two patents.

Smith’s research at MMI is focused on renewable materials synthesis, characterization and commercial applications. These materials include a series of biobased hyperbranched polymers targeted to controlled release delivery applications, the conversion of biobased polyols into value-added derivatives and the development of new biobased pathways to existing petrochemicals.