Image: Esther Barrena, Emilio Palomares, Enrique Pascual and Mariano Campoy-Quiles.
Enrique Pascual defended his PhD Thesis at the ICMAB meeting room, and by videoconference. He was in the room with one of his supervisors, Mariano Campoy-Quiles, and two of the members of the PhD Committee, Emilio Palomares (President), from the ICIQ, and Esther Barrena (Secretary), from the ICMAB.
The other supervisor and the Vocal member of the PhD Committee were connected online: Marco Stella, PhD supervisor from Eurecat, and Peter Levermore (Vocal), founder and CEO at Savvy Science (UK). The coordinator of the UAB Doctoral Programme in Materials Science, Eva Pellicer, was also connected to make sure that everything was done correctly.
About 70 people joined the Zoom online defense to support Enrique!
Image: Cover of the PhD Thesis presentation.
- Why did you choose the ICMAB for your PhD?
I decided to join the ICMAB because I was looking for a challenging upscaling project related to photovoltaic technology. I came across with a job offer to do exactly what I was aiming to. After a couple of chats with my supervisors discussing the project, I decided to join the ICMAB and Eurecat and I do not regret the decision. It has been 4 years of truly amazing personal and professional experiences.
- How would you explain your research to a non-scientific audience?
The main aim of my research was to advance in the transition from lab-scale devices to large-scale fully printed photovoltaic modules. Unlike traditional silicon photovoltaic modules, organic photovoltaics (OPV) is a very young technology with moderate but growing lab-scale efficiencies. However, this technology has very little penetration within the photovoltaic market. One of the most interesting features of this technology is the wide variety of colours that can be shown resulting in visually attractive upon their installation. In particular, we focused on predicting colours of organic solar cells using optical simulations and then we manufactured OPV modules with different colours and levels of transparency by means of industrially relevant techniques.
- What are the main applications of your research? Could you give us an example?
One of the envisioned applications of OPV is to power autonomous devices for the so-called Internet-of-Things. These devices show remarkable performance under low-light illumination conditions overcoming those made of silicon. On the other hand, OPV can be implemented as part of the architectonic elements covering larger areas such as skylights, photoactive windows or façades serving both aesthetically and functionally.
- From the lessons learnt here, which one do you value the most?
Keep going despite results are not coming at the first trial. In the beginning, you can get frustrated since you do your best and sometimes experiments do not work out. Do not feel bad. Take your time and discuss it with your supervisors and workmates. Teams reach always faster their goals than individuals alone.
- What will you miss the most from ICMAB?
Definitely the great atmosphere that we have in the group. Nanopto is a big family of researchers willing to help you if you need it. Having such workmates made my research easier and funny.
- How do you think this experience will contribute to your training and to your future?
I strongly believe that my training and experience at ICMAB will help me to tackle future challenges in my career. Besides, I had the chance to spent 3 months abroad working for an international company like Merck Chemicals. I enjoyed a lot such experience. During these 4 years, I learnt about printing technology, writing a report or how to present your results in public. Moreover, we have been working on some of the cutting-edge technologies and approaches. We have been tackling some fascinating challenges that will come out in the upcoming months.
- What are your plans once you finish your PhD?
Now it is time to move back to Málaga, my hometown, and I will look for new opportunities related to photovoltaic technology. I am convinced that the field of photovoltaics will play an import role in the short-term to shift the energy generation from fossil-based to renewable-based resources.
- What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your PhD, that now you can recommend to the ones who are starting?
I would recommend not to be afraid of asking for advice especially to the post-docs of the group. When you start a PhD everything is new, sometimes it takes a while until you become a fully productive PhD student.
- Why did you become a scientist? Which have been your role models?
My background comes from the engineering field but I wanted to know more about the science behind photovoltaics and how to industrialize such technology. I had the chance to learn at ICMAB and EURECAT how to manufacture OPV devices with the aid of great scientists. My supervisor Mariano Campoy is one of the scientists that I admire the most. We spent lots of hours planning and discussing our results. It has been a fantastic experience.
- Which is your favourite female scientist?
Marie Curie. I did my Erasmus in Warsaw (Poland) and during that time I had the chance to discover her scientific contributions. The first scientist that won 2 Nobel prizes. She was a truly remarkable female scientist.
- Describe in 3 keywords…
* Your research: Exciting
* Barcelona: Amazing
* Your experience at ICMAB: Unforgettable
Image: Top-left: ICMAB meeting room with Enrique Pascual, Mariano Campoy-Quiles, Emilio Palomares and Esther Barrena; Top-right: Eva Pellicer; Bottom: Peter Levermore.
Title: On the upscaling of organic solar cells based on non-fullerene acceptors
Abstract: Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) is a promising renewable technology because of its low energy for production and the use of abundant materials. The performance of OPVs has experienced an unprecedent rise partly due to the development of the so-called non-fullerene acceptors (NFAs). This thesis tackles three relevant issues for the upscaling of NFA-based OPVs. First, the addition of NFAs in the photoactive layer is theoretically investigated as an efficient strategy to tune the device aesthetics. Second, a high-throughput combinatorial platform based on controlled gradients (1D/2D) in the parameters of interest is developed, enabling an efficient screening and optimisation of devices. Finally, mm2-size single-cells are further upscaled to cm2-scale flexible and semitransparent modules by two relevant industrially-compatible techniques such as slot-die coating and laser-patterning.