February 7, 2024

LightCore, the latest Spin-Off Venture

Dr Tijmen Bakker and Dr Klaas van Leest, PhD graduates of the UvA’s Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, have started the company Lightcore. It aims to commercialize dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) for small electronic devices, capturing energy from any light source.

Lightcore builds on Bakker’s PhD research on the fundamental aspects and design principles of so-called dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). This third-generation type of solar cell has been around for over 30 years but has yet to find suitable commercial application.

The operational principle of a DSSC resembles that of natural photosynthesis, where a dye or pigment molecule is instrumental in harvesting the light. By carefully tuning the dye molecule, a DSSC can be made to absorb any chosen wavelength.

With Lightcore, Bakker and Van Leest now hope to further develop and exploit these cells for a variety of applications. In particular, they see good opportunities for devices where the Lightcore technology captures energy from any light source – be it the natural light of the sun or the artificial light at home or in the office. Embedding Lightcores in small electronic devices could eliminate the need for batteries or wired connections.

Dr Tijmen Bakker, Lightcore “Imagine your devices, such as smart sensors, remotes, e-locks, transmitters, and many more, continuously powered, free from the constraints of charging cables or battery replacements. ”

Bakker has been preparing to start his company ever since obtaining his PhD in October 2021 under Prof. Joost Reek at the research group for Homogeneous, Supramolecular, and Bio-Inspired Catalysis. During his PhD research, he synthesized and studied these dyes, assembled countless Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSCs), and explored the versatility and elegance of the DSSC concept.

In 2021, Bakker received a grant from the UvA Research Priority Area Sustainable Chemistry enabling him to explore the possibilities of commercializing DSSCs. The following year, he was selected as a fellow of the ‘Faculty of Impact’ programme from the Universities of the Netherlands, Techleap, and the Dutch Research Council NWO. This selection came with a significant personal grant to support him in bringing his concept to market.

In 2023 Bakker teamed up with Dr Klaas van Leest who obtained his PhD in December 2020 with Prof. Bas de Bruin at the same research group. Klaas also has an impressive academic record with a Cum Laude PhD and a postdoctoral position in Hong Kong with a NWO Rubicon Grant. Together, Tijmen and Klaas, who share a strong friendship and professional rapport, are the driving force behind Lightcore, blending scientific acumen with entrepreneurial spirit.

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