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The Tyler Lewis Clean Energy Research Foundation received many qualified applications for the 2015 Research Grant. The motivation, dedication and depth of knowledge of the applicants were inspiring. After adjudication by the Granting Advisory members and the Foundation Board members, we are exceedingly proud to announce the selection of Nimrat Obhi as the 2015 Tyler Lewis Clean Energy Research Foundation Grant recipient!

Nimrat is from Ottawa, Ontario, and received her HBSc in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Ottawa in 2014. She then enrolled as a PhD student in the Seferos Research Group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Toronto. She is passionate about the use of alternative energies and is currently working on new materials for organic solar cells. In her spare time she enjoys skiing, music, swimming, and searching for the perfect Toronto hiking trail.

Nimrat is an exceedingly accomplished young woman, with impressive volunteer experience, numerous academic awards and outstanding personal achievements. Below, in her own words, is an overview of her work with Unique Polymers for Organic Solar Cells.

Clean, renewable energy sources are of paramount importance, particularly since non-renewable sources of energy are in limited supply, harmful to the environment, and negatively impact local ecosystems. Of particular interest is solar energy conversion, where sunlight is converted into electricity without carbon emissions. Many different materials can be used to manufacture a solar cell; my interests are focused on semiconducting plastics, known as polymers.

Semiconducting organic polymers are long chains of small carbon-based molecules and are appealing materials for solar cells. There are numerous advantages in using these polymers because they can be synthesized in high volumes at low cost, they are flexible, and small amounts of material are able to absorb large amounts of light.

When organic polymers are used as the light-absorbing material in solar cells, they convert sunlight into positive and negative charges that are transported through the cell to generate electricity. If we can increase the ability of the polymers to absorb more light or to transport these charges, we will make more efficient polymer solar cells.

My PhD research focuses on the development of new types of organic polymers with a unique two-dimensional design that increases their ability to both absorb light and transport charge. The synthesis of these polymers is currently underway, after which I will study their properties before fabricating a prototype solar cell using these polymers as the light-absorbing and charge conducting material. I hope to learn how their unique structure influences their properties, and to ultimately show that these distinctive materials are useful for the fabrication of high-efficiency polymer solar cells.

The Tyler Lewis Clean Energy Research Foundation is proud to contribute to the support of Nimrat’s project in sustainable clean energy research!