Working in the field of photovoltaics, Ph.D. candidate Ramis Arbi tells us about the challenges of breaking free from fossil fuels.
I am working on finding the perfect active material for photovoltaics, which would break our dependence on fossil fuels for energy.
Our research involves decorating surfaces with functionalized nanoparticles to work on different aspects of photovoltaic architecture. We are working towards enhancing the efficiency and lifetime of organic thin-film devices without losing their desirable properties: low-cost fabrication, customizable form factor and flexibility.
The existence of light is a boon for life on earth, from photosynthesis in plants to humans biomimicking that mechanism. Photovoltaics gives us the option to harvest light for greater sustainability.
Our centralized energy model is geared towards fossil fuels and mass generation. Extending the lifetime of cheap photovoltaics would be a step towards a more decentralized system, allowing for wider coverage without the infrastructure cost. Organic photovoltaics is a particular area of interest because of the ease of fabrication and low unit cost.
During my undergraduate studies, I particularly liked the idea of ‘tuning’ different material properties. I have always been fascinated by the idea of a tailored material with the exact properties we desire; my research allows me to investigate just that and gives me a goal to move towards.
Q: What kind of mindset do you need to achieve the Next Great Impossible?
A: You need curiosity, determination, and a view of the bigger picture.