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UOIT physics professor receives funding to develop new battery prototype

Research has potential to improve lifespans of smoke detectors, medical devices, personal digital assistants and more

Consumers, hospital personnel and CEOs may soon be able to cross another item off their to-do list - changing the batteries in their electronic devices - thanks to a new battery prototype being developed by Dr. Franco Gaspari, an assistant professor of physics with the Faculty of Science at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).

Dr. Gaspari recently received $10,000 in funding from the Ontario Partnership for Innovation and Commercialization (OPIC) to further his research into developing a battery prototype based on a combination of third-generation photovoltaics and radioactive waste materials. UOIT is one of seven OPIC member institutions who together form a network of universities from across the province with similar and complementary technology transfer goals and capabilities.

Dr. Gaspari's research has the potential to improve battery technology by creating a battery with a lifespan longer than that of the device it is supporting, including pacemakers, smoke detectors, medical instruments, military devices, alarms, computer technology and more.

The prototype, which UOIT's Office of Technology Transfer & Commercialization is in the process of arranging a patent filing for, will have the potential to form an effective micro-sized battery with a potential lifespan of 12 to 15 years.

"This technology has the ability to significantly impact the way the general public utilizes battery technology and has the potential to create an entirely new battery industry that could provide employment options and opportunities for the province of Ontario," said Dr. Gaspari. "I am very grateful to OPIC for its generous financial support."

Dr. Gaspari's research areas include photovoltaics, semiconductors and nanotechnology. He has explored the field of photovoltaics, technology that converts light directly into energy through the use of solar cells, significantly since joining UOIT in 2006, including spearheading the university's research into using solar-cell-coated highway barriers to generate electrical power for Ontario's electricity grid. His current research employs the use of third-generation solar cells, also known as hot carrier cells, which in order to be effective, must be collected while at an elevated (i.e. hot) energy range to produce an optimal amount of electricity. In addition to his recent OPIC funding, he has also received research grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Dr. Gaspari teaches in the Bachelor of Science in Physics and Master of Science in Materials Science programs at UOIT. "This project is another example of the excellence and relevance of the research of UOIT faculty members, and which provides significant opportunities to our undergraduate and graduate students, who regularly work in collaboration with our faculty on these projects", said Dr. William Smith, dean of the UOIT Faculty of Science.

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