Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Candidate Seminar


Organic surfaces and interfaces for a connected world


Dr. Canek Fuentes-Hernandez


Georgia Institute of Technology


Monday, April 26, 2021 at 11:00:00 AM   Add to Calendar



Dr. Omer Inan


Surfaces delineate the boundaries of physical objects. In a connected world, these surfaces will play a key role in interfacing the physical with the digital world. Every surface in the world receives many types of sensory inputs. Biological organisms have used sensory inputs on their surfaces to evolve into the vast diversity of organisms that populate the world. These organisms display an astounding range of complexity, from the apparent simplicity of unicellular bacteria, the multicellular complexity of the human body, to the complex but delicate balance required for the sustainability of ecosystems. Computing has evolved in a very different realm, that of the digital world, but as it makes strides into blending with the physical world, it faces similar challenges to those faced by biological systems, namely competition for resources, e.g. energy, use of resources, e.g. sustainability and customization to create functionality and balanced functionality within an ecosystem, e.g. everything plays a role within the context of the whole. In this talk I will discuss why and how microelectronic and optoelectronic devices based on organic semiconductors can play a role in enabling seamless interfaces between the digital and the physical world. I will start by describing how interface engineering1,2 has played a critical role in optimizing the performance of organic photovoltaics,1,2 organic transistors,3 and organic photodetectors,4 as well as in enabling reduced device complexity, fabrication, and improved lifetime. The performance of these optoelectronic devices are in certain cases superior to their inorganic counterparts and their low processing temperature has enabled their fabrication in a wide range of organic and synthetic surfaces that are flexible or even stretchable, with mechanical properties that are similar to those of tissues in the human body. Using an organic semiconductor device toolbox, I will discuss how novel device geometries have led to the demonstration of functional surfaces with improved sensing characteristics. In one example I will show how the ability to shape an organic photodetector enables a photoplethysmography sensor, e.g. pulse-oximetry sensor, to operate with 10x less power than a conventional PPG sensor based on a Si photodiode. I a second example, I will show how autonomous optical sensing surfaces5 capable of inferring user activities and interactions in the living space can be redesigned to preserve privacy and prevent their energy consumption to scale with the number of sensors deployed. These examples illustrate the complementary role that large area sensing surfaces based on organic semiconductor devices could play within the larger ecosystem of wireless technologies for the connected world. 1 Zhou, Y. et al. Science 336, 327-332, (2012). 2 Kolesov, V. A. et al. Nat Mater 16, 474-480, (2017). 3 Jia, X. et al. Sci. Adv. 4, eaao1705, (2018). 4 Fuentes-Hernandez, C. et al. Science 370, 698, (2020). 5 Zhang, D. et al. Proc. ACM Interact. Mob. Wearable Ubiquitous Technol. 4, Article 103, (2020).


Canek Fuentes-Hernandez is a Principal Research Scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico, he received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México in 1998. In 2004, he received a PhD degree from the Optical Sciences Center at the University of Arizona and in 2005 he joined the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research interests lie at the intersection between electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering and material science. He has published 102 peer-reviewed journal papers that have received more than 6100 citations (h-index of 41), 62 contributed presentations at refereed conferences, 1 book chapter and 5 issued US patents. His past research has included investigations of the physical properties of organic semiconductors, and the physics and engineering of microelectronic and optoelectronic organic semiconductor devices, including: organic thin-film transistors, organic photovoltaics, organic photodetectors, high energy density capacitors and organic light-emitting diodes. They have also included multiple areas of physical optics and photonics, encapsulation, reliability and sustainability of organic devices and their applications in solid-state lighting and multiple sensing applications including pulse oximetry, chemical sensing, sensors of ionizing radiation and optical sensing for interactive computing applications. His current research interests are developing flexible and stretchable organic photodetectors through scalable manufacturing to implement computational sensors with novel architectures that disappear into the living spaces and enable wireless low-power autonomous operation with reduced latency and improved privacy. His goal is to enable multimodal sensing surfaces that operate at a local level or as part of a wireless network infrastructure, and create new ways for users to interact with the living environment in areas that support global scale applications ranging from healthcare to smart agriculture and large scale sensing for urban resilience and conservation.


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