A World Without Charging – Brilliant Matters Interview with RICOH#Newproduct
Brilliant Matters is excited to announce we are starting to supply organic photovoltaic (OPV) materials to Ricoh. Ricoh is a global leader in printing and imaging equipment and is highly involved in technological innovation with the aim to create a sustainable society. Brilliant Matters is a young company founded in 2016 that develops and manufactures advanced organic semiconductor materials using a scalable, reliable and environmentally-friendly production method.
By uniting their key strengths, the two companies aim to use these revolutionary materials to make eco-friendly, metal-free solar panels and optical sensors by using energy-efficient printing processes.
Brilliant Matters had the chance to interview Ricoh and hear their thoughts firsthand on the OPV market, where it is going, some challenges to overcome, and why it will be important in the future.
Q1. Congratulations on your announcement on Organic Photovoltaics (OPV)! Ricoh to offer flexible environmental power generating device samples, Flexible Energy Harvesting Device | Global | Ricoh
We acknowledge that RICOH is the first Japanese multinational company to publicly announce the commercialization of OPV products.
Please let us know what the main features and advantages are of your first OPV and why you chose to invest in this new technology.
First of all, I appreciate your heartful congratulations.
We, however, acknowledge that this is just beginning, and this is not an official commercial product yet. We are still at the starting line; we would like to improve the level of quality as we move towards an official commercial product.
The main features of our OPVs are that they are flexible and lightweight, but the greatest feature is their high conversion efficiency from low illuminance (about 200lx) to medium illuminance (about 10klx), compared to conventional silicon solar cells and other OPVs.
RICOH has been consistently engaged in the research and development of organic photoconductors (OPC) and manufacturing in the copier business. In fact, we can say that OPCs are “the oldest commercialized organic semiconductor devices”.
Q2. We know RICOH has next-generation photovoltaic (PV) lines such as Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC) and Perovskite Solar Cells (PSC) either already commercialized or under development.
Please let us know your market approaches for OPV, do you develop full lines covering any kind of OPV?
That’s right, our DSSCs are already in mass production and, we are also developing PSC.
DSSC specializes in low illuminance and aims to expand as a power source for small electronic devices such as sensors for indoor use.
Our OPVs take advantage of high-power generation from low to medium illuminance and are flexible and lightweight. Due to these characteristics, they can be used as a power source for small electronic devices, such as sensors or wearable electronics, in areas that cannot be covered by DSSC.
In the future, as we increase our OPV focus, we plan to expand into power generation applications for windows and walls.
Q3. We are impressed by your Energy Harvesting Business Center.
While Organic Electronics are expected to become a huge industry soon, there is a view that its early success lies in printing technology.
Please let us know the company’s strategy and vision for Organic Electronics used for Energy Harvesting.
Our General Manager has been working with us since the early days of developing organic energy harvesting devices such as DSSCs and OPVs and has set up an Energy Harvesting Business Center to commercialize these technologies.
Our vision is “A World without Charging”
We would like to bring this vision to life and contribute to the creation of a sustainable society. We will achieve this through energy harvesting devices, such as solar cells, and through wireless sensors for data solutions. We see great potential in both industries and define our key technology as an “energy harvesting technology.”
Q4. Why was RICOH, a huge multinational corporation in Japan, motivated to work with a start-up company overseas, such as BM?
If possible, can you please let us know the main reason for using BM technology in your first OPV product?
RICOH is generally regarded as a large company, but we think our position is similar to an intrapreneurship.
The reason we chose Brilliant Matters as a business partner was that we were attracted to BM’s technology and personality, regardless of whether the company was large or small.
Specifically, in terms of material synthesis, it is mentioned that BM has an environmentally-friendly production method.
I also met and spoke with the CEO, Mr. Jean-Rémi Pouliot several times, and I could see he was very passionate about BM’s technology and vision. Personally, I sympathized with that passion and felt that by working together, we could quickly achieve the commercialization of OPVs.
Q5. We are so impressed by your “open mind” in this initial R&D stage with us.
In fact, we have had a wonderful impression and are highly motivated to be working with a company like RICOH who is a pioneer in the industry.
Can you please tell us more about your company’s philosophy?
Thank you for saying that.
RICOH has seven values, one of which is “Teamwork”. Specifically, it is defined as “Respect all stakeholders and co-create value.”
The point is to co-create with all stakeholders. I understand that it is important to collaborate not only within the company but also outside of the company. For me, I attach great importance to that perspective, and I believe that by collaborating with various people, I can achieve things that I cannot achieve on my own.
Q6. Please let us know your program for OPV development and its evolution.
From a quality point of view, we would like to further improve efficiency and durability by developing materials and optimizing the layer structure. We would like to achieve this through continued collaboration with Brilliant Matters on material development.
Currently, our OPVs are optimized for low to middle illuminance, but from the perspective of market expansion, we would like to develop a device that matches middle to high illuminance. For that purpose, it is essential to acquire roll-to-roll production technology.
Q7. RICOH has just made its first big commitment into OPV. Being a leader in the printed electronics industry, what would you say are the biggest strengths of OPV and how will they make a difference in the world?
As mentioned earlier, RICOH also develops and manufactures OPCs, which I think is the first initiative for printed electronics. As for solar cells, DSSC production started prior to OPV production. We are developing and manufacturing OPVs based on our knowledge cultivated through OPC and DSSC production.
Our experience with OPC is a major reason for entering the market. Since OPC, which is a photoelectric conversion device, is already manufactured using various coating technologies, we have been able to develop and manufacture DSSC and OPV as RICOH.
Considering OPV’s similar strengths , it may be said that RICOH’s development and manufacturing of OPCs are a huge asset when we look towards OPV development. I was developing materials for OPC when I first joined the company, and as an application of that technology, I have been developing materials and devices for OPV.
The biggest feature of our OPV is high conversion efficiency from low illuminance to middle illuminance, and we are optimizing it so that it can be used for the electric power source of IoT devices.
My dream is to equip IoT devices around the world with OPV, which I believe will have a great impact on the world as a result.
Q8. What would you consider the key applications for this technology now? Which applications will you focus on?
As our affiliation name suggests, we have been aiming to develop this technology as an energy harvesting device from the beginning of solar cell development, right through to an independent power source for various IoT sensor terminals in the IoT society.
While regulations on disposable primary batteries are being considered in the future, the keyword “energy harvesting” will attract more attention.
Of course, the market is large for power generation on walls and windows to which conventional inorganic solar cells cannot be applied, so we are also planning on entering into this market.
However, the main application we envision in the near future is a power source for small electronic devices, such as IoT devices.
Q9. What are some of the challenges you have faced in the past with OPV, and how will this collaborative technology between RICOH and Brilliant Matters tackle these challenges? What is the potential for the OPV market in the future?
In addition to power generation efficiency and durability, there were also challenges from a manufacturing perspective, such as film formation and processing when creating products.
In the future, we believe that the issue we would like to solve together with Brilliant Matters is to develop materials that further increase power generation and durability, while taking into consideration the film-forming properties and workability of the materials.
Q10. Being a key player in the printing industry, which new technologies do you think will be the most important for printed electronics in the future?
When it comes to OPV, I think it is important to integrate both materials and processes.
The morphology of the photoelectric conversion layer is important for OPV, and in order to control the morphology, various techniques such as additives and heating are often used to improve efficiency and durability. In production, it is required to be able to easily produce high quality products without using these harmful treatment methods. For that purpose, it is necessary to change the material according to the process so that these treatment methods are not necessary.
Nowadays, various materials are made to improve efficiency and durability, but materials that are more suitable for this process will need to be developed in the future, and I would like to produce such materials.
In the future, “on-demand solar cells” that can be painted directly on walls and windows to generate electricity will be created, and I think the world will change further.
Just like Ricoh says, a World Without Charging is their philosophy and ultimate goal, a goal which aligns with the philosophy at Brilliant Matters. Brilliant Matters focuses on creating organic semiconductors in the cleanest way possible to power the future. The Company believes that through this partnership with Ricoh, both companies collaboratively will be able to make a difference in the world.
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