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Conn Center Staff

Thad Druffel, PhD, PE
Team Leader, Solar Energy Conversion

Ernst Hall, Room 302
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Thad Druffel, PhD, PE is a Senior Research Engineer and Theme Leader for Solar Manufacturing R&D focused on scalable manufacturing of photovoltaics and other renewable energy production and storage solutions.

He received his doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisville in 2009. He holds an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University (2000) and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University (1990) and is a registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Kentucky (Lic. 22550). He interned at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University before joining the United States Peace Corps in 1990, where he served as a math, physics, and chemistry teacher in Malawi. He then joined Eco-Systems Ltd., a manufacturer of solar water heaters, in Malawi as a field/design/manufacturing engineer. Thad worked as a Mechanical Engineer for Obermeyer Hydro in Fort Collins, CO (1994-2000). He relocated to Louisville to work with CDI Engineering Group (GE Appliances) and then Optical Dynamics Nanotechnology, where he served as Senior Mechanical Engineer and then Vice President of Applied Research and Development until 2010, where he led an R&D group in the area of optical nanocomposite thin films. He was the architect of the nanoCLEAR product, an antireflective coating for eyeglass lenses, which received a Nano50 Award from Nanotech Briefs in 2006. He has also consulted with industrial clients to develop products based on large area deposition of nanoparticles. He joined the Conn Center in 2010.

Thad's primary research is investigating utilization of nanocomposites on wide area flexible substrates with intended applications in solar energy via roll-to-roll deposition techniques. He has several publications and patent applications related to this research in photonic applications of thin film nanocomposites. He is experienced as the principal investigator in grants from the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and the State of Kentucky as well as industry sponsored research. His background includes research and development topics in both Mechanical and Chemical Engineering and he has been involved in projects ranging from solar and water facilities in Africa to corporate research and development of cutting edge technologies.