Thad Druffel, PhD, PE is currently a Senior Research Engineer and Theme Leader, Solar Manufacturing R&D at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at the University of Louisville. His current research is focused on developing materials and processes for roll-to-roll manufacture of devices for renewable energy. This includes synthesizing nanomaterials and formulating into inks to be deposited using traditional printing techniques. The work also involves using near atmospheric processes to consolidate the nanomaterials into functional bulk thin films. Of particular interest is the use of intense pulsed light sources which heat large areas using a broad spectrum of intense light delivered in very short pulses. His twenty year background in industry includes research, development and engineering topics in several engineering disciplines and he has been involved in projects ranging from solar and water facilities in Africa to corporate research and development of cutting edge technologies. He has PhD in Chemical Engineering, M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering and is a registered Mechanical Engineer in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He is experienced as a principal investigator in grants from the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and State of Kentucky as well as industry-sponsored research. He is active within the entrepreneurial community and continues to be involved in startups. He co-founded Bert Thin Films, LLC along with a former post-doctoral researcher to commercialize a technology that was initially conceived at the Conn Center.

 Amir H. Ghahremani is a PhD candidate in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Louisville. His research is focused on the development of thin films and scalable techniques pertinent to roll to roll manufacturing of efficient and cost effective organic-inorganic Perovskite solar cells. These methods include the application of ultrasonic spray, slot die and inkjet printing along with the use of intense pulse light for high throughput annealing.      

 Blake Martin is currently a graduate student in the department of chemical engineering. His current research interests are perovskite solar cells, specifically, understanding their crystal structure and properties to build better, more efficient solar devices. This includes the investigation of Intense pulsed light interaction with the perovskite material using analytical techniques to map the process response in extensive detail. He plans to contribute to the idea of commercial perovskite solar cells.

 Lyndie Burns is a graduate student in the department of chemical engineering. Her current research interests are in creating low cost earth abundant perovskite solar cells by studying novel manufacturing methods of the cells to enable alternative transport layers. By doing so, it could assist in the large-scale manufacturing of the cells.

 Sunil Gupta is currently a PhD candidate in the department of mechanical engineering. He is currently interested in the reducing Energy Payback Time for PV systems, as well as in the development of 'mini-steel' format solar PV manufacturing. Research on the use of Intense Pulsed Light and roll-to-roll coating and processing techniques will be used. Largely focused on technology (in contrast with pure science), he is also working on areas like using solar power for extracting water from air and desalination.



Graduate Students

Brandon W. Lavery, PhD (2017) Dr. Lavery researched the interaction of the intense pulsed light process specifically around the perovskite material. He graduated in 2017 with a degree in chemical engineering and joined Panasonic.

Gabriel Draper, PhD (2016) Dr. Draper researched the reduction mechanisms of metal oxides and graphene oxide using intense pulsed light and non-hazardous reductants. He graduated in 2016 with a degree in chemical engineering and joined Intel.

Venkat Kalyan, PhD (2015) Dr. Kalyan researched the photoanode of the dye sensitized solar cell along with manufacturing techniques for nanowires for other solar conversion devices. He graduated in 2015 in chemical engineering and joined Intel.

Post-Doctoral Researchers

Krishnamraju Ankireddy, PhD Dr. Ankireddy was involved in developing solution phase materials for printed electronics and solar cells. He joined Bert Thin Films, LLC in Louisville, KY.

Ruvini Dharmadasa, PhD Dr. Dharmadasa was involved in the development of the intense pulsed light technique for several materials important to solar cells. She founded Bert Thin Films, LLC based on some of the research conducted at the Conn Center.

Juan He, PhD Dr. He was involved in developing novel desiccants for energy efficiency improvements for heating and drying. She joined Advance Energy Materials in Louisville, KY.

Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research

University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky 40292


Ernst Hall 302


tel (502) 852-2265