Toys as inspiration: Shrinky-Dink startup epiphanies

At 12 am one night in 2007, a revolutionary engineering idea popped into Michelle Khine’s head. The rest is history (and chemistry, physics, biotech, nanotech, solar: she seems unstoppable)

Just to give you an idea of the seemingly endless stream of mind-boggling new technologies coming out of Michelle Khine’s startup, here’s an extract from a press release:

Findings Published in ‘Applied Physics Letters’ Show Shrink’s Quantum Dot Technology Generates Nearly Twice the Photocurrent in Silicon Cells as Compared to Leading Photovoltaic Materials

Shrink Nanotechnologies, Inc. (“Shrink”), an innovative nanotechnology company developing products and licensing opportunities in the solar energy production, medical diagnostics and sensors and biotechnology research and development tools businesses, is pleased to announced today that its wholly-owned subsidiary Shrink Solar’s patent-pending Quantum Dot Solar Concentrator technology has demonstrated the ability to boost solar power absorption by silicon cells by nearly twice that of other leading photovoltaic materials.

Results of the study were published in Applied Physics Letters (Vol.96, Issue 19) online on May 11, 2010.

The article titled, “Viability of using near infrared PbS quantum dots as active materials in luminescent solar concentrators,” is available at www.shrinksolar.com.

Shrink has the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize products based on its patent-pending Quantum Dot Solar Concentrator technology, which acts as a “solar cell accessory” by enhancing the ability of traditional silicon solar cells to absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity.

The technology was invented by Shrink Science Advisory Board member Dr. Sayantani Ghosh and Shrink Scientific Co-founder Dr. Michelle Khine.

In this latest study, Dr. Ghosh and her team determined that “the performance of chemically synthesized lead sulfide (Pbs) quantum dots (QDs) generated nearly twice the photocurrent in silicon cells than other materials, achieving an integrated optical efficiency of 12.6%.

“My mom wanted to be an engineer, but she went to high school in the late ’50s, when women couldn’t take advanced courses. I studied mechanical engineering in her honor, and got a bioengineering Ph.D. in 2005.”

Michelle Khine, Quoted in Marie Claire Magazine “Women on Top”  October 20, 2011

This attributed primarily to the broadband absorption of PbS, which allows optimum harvesting of the solar spectrum.”

“This published study confirms the findings of previous work conducted by some of the nation’s leading PV laboratories doing work on QDs.

Our QD polymer-based solutions have the ability to extend the relative performance of existing PV technology and have the adaptability to be integrated into legacy PV technologies.

This study provides another important proof-of-concept toward the commercialization and application of our solar energy technology for a wide range of solar powered products,” said Mark L. Baum, CEO of Shrink Nanotechnologies, Inc.

The whole ‘lab on a chip’ scene (and microfluidics) is brimming with countless new projects, many of which show exceptional ingenuity and promise exciting further possibilities