Dr. Aicheng Chen is an Associate Professor at Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, conducting research in Electrochemistry, Bioelectrochemistry, Green Chemistry, Materials Science and Nanotechnology. Dr. Chen and his research team have been exploring the preparation methods and properties of nanostructures for green chemistry applications for many years. An example of these nanostructures is tin dioxide (SnO2) dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). These cells are a cheaper alternative to more traditional solar cells which use silicon (Si) or titanium dioxide (TiO2) to harvest solar energy. For economically feasible research, it is desirable to know the cheapest method of preparing SnO2 cells.
Sean O’Neill, a University of Waterloo co-op student, was asked by Dr. Chen to investigate three different methods of SnO2 film preparation and recommend the best method. The methods to be reviewed were chemical vapour deposition, the solution based method and electrochemical deposition.
This case study illustrates an example of cost and benefits analysis and can be used in Special Topics ME course (ME597). It also introduces students to the various factors that comes in to play while evaluating the feasibility of current or new microfabrication technologies. Finally, the case enables students to make decisions based on qualitative and quantitative cost and benefit analysis