By Katherine Hooper and Alexander Riches 9 December 2014
On the 19th-20th November the Swansea PV group ventured to High Wycombe to discuss our love of photovoltaics. This was a very special meeting because it was the first time we were joined by so many of the SPECIFIC PV family (Bangor, Bath, Cardiff, Loughborough, Glyndwr, and Imperial) thanks to a massive organisation effort from Cecile. And it was significantly further East than previous reviews!
The meeting began with a session of introductions. The first to be introduced was a notably vocal character – Cecile’s squeaky pig! This pig was an expert at keeping time and we were warned of the severe consequences if our discussions overran. Everyone had prepared a slide about themselves and we went through these at random (and improvised for those who had further to travel and hadn’t yet arrived “How to describe Arthur? Just give him a ham sandwich and he will be happy”). Once we’d heard about everyone from crafty chemists to pillaging pirates, the presentations kicked off with a good dose of all things perovskite. There were excellent systematic studies; ideas about processing, materials analysis, cell operation, stability, and scaling (“we have a specialist for each layer...”, “And Joel for every layer!”).
This was followed by a series of presentations on a variety of topics, covering blocking layers, perovskite imaging, the meeting of ex-astronauts, and transparent electrodes (in which Pete displayed his superior live demonstration skills where Dave had previously been less successful). The day was rounded up by a presentation from across the Atlantic when it emerged that “Brian is with us”. Brian O’Regan joined us via Skype to talk about various optical and electrical treatments that can affect cell performance; perovskite cells are very biased.
There was a strong eagerness for food after the late evening finish so proceedings were continued in the dining room. Eventually we were asked to vacate the dining room and ordered to take our unopened wine bottles with us to the bar. As well as the comfy bar there was a book laden room with a pool table and piano to continue our discussions and bonding (although not everyone was impressed “pfft that encyclopaedia doesn’t have even photovoltaic in it”). We had fierce games of pool with lots at stake (“if I pot this you have to give me my doctorate now”, “alright”) and interesting distraction strategies to retain domination.
The second day of our PV review started with presentations about SPECIFIC’s ‘satellite’ projects, i.e. those that are not based at Swansea, Bangor or Imperial College. The first speaker was Ester Coma, an architect from Cardiff, who spoke about what is at the heart of SPECIFIC: Buildings as Power Stations. This was an excellent insight into how the fruits of research in PV can be applied in a very practical way and what the challenges are from a very different perspective. Ester was followed by Jeff Hamilton from Bath and then Andy Clayton from Glyndwr, who talked about atomic layer deposition (ALD) and metal oxide chemical vapour deposition (MOCVD) respectively. Next up were the Bangor team who had us all enthralled with their vibrantly coloured dye-cells and organic chemistry expertise. The presentations were finalised with excellent work on organic solar cells, stability and analytical techniques.
With such a wide variety of backgrounds it was a fantastic opportunity to share ideas, spark new activities amongst groups, and troubleshoot any difficulties groups were having with a good round of material/process blamestorming. All of this gave us the biggest and best PV review to date.
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