Nicole was awarded both Prizes for her work in developing and patenting a revolutionary solar cell that can be manufactured at low temperatures using everyday items like a pizza oven, nail polish and an inkjet printer. Nicole hopes that her technology will mean cheap, clean and green energy for developing countries, providing electricity to 2 billion of the world’s poorest people.
I think the first tipoff was the description of a pizza oven as providing low temperatures. Normal operation of the ones I’ve seen is about 500F/300C, which is lower than the 1000C+ of some deposition chambers, but nowhere near cold. And you can run an oven like that (self-cleaning cycles, anyone) up to about 600C if you’re willing to void the warranty and use gloves to open the door.
Nail polish isn’t much good for solar cells, but I bet they’re talking about the bog-standard industrial solvent acetone, which is used in semiconductor fabs everywhere.
And ink-jet printers? Well, yeah. Any device that’s capable of depositing fluids of your choice in picoliter-resolution quantities with a spatial resolution of 10-20 microns would probably be useful for making circuits. The amazing thing isn’t that the process in question is so low tech, it’s that so many millions of these incredibly sophisticated gadgets sit on desks around the world.
No MacGyver, but good on her anyway, and shame on the writer.