The Energy Futures Lab spoke with Dr. Suhyun Yoo about his research and experience with the E4F Fellowship at Imperial.
Humans have relied on the power of the sun since they existed, but the conversion of sunlight into electricity is a relatively recent innovation, with the first useful photovoltaic devices developed in the 1950s. After becoming
Despite slow progress in the early days, solar panels have since improved significantly in both performance and cost, playing a key role in many countries’ energy mixes. Globally, photovoltaics currently meet about 4% of total electricity demand, and that share is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades.
However, the performance of silicon-based solar devices is limited, and efficiency gains have plateaued in recent years. The growing demand for clean energy calls for alternative materials that can convert the sun’s energy into electricity more efficiently and sustainably.
This is the challenge that drives researchers in the Material Design Group at Imperial College London. Led by Professor Aron Walsh, part of the Thomas Young Center, the group uses high-performance computing to design and optimize materials for a wide range of clean energy technologies.
New solar cell materials are needed to achieve higher efficiencies. The main aim of my work is to help find these new materials by using a combination of quantum mechanics computations and machine learning approaches. Dr. Suhyun Yoo Imperial College London E4F Fellow
Among those researchers is Dr. Suhyun Yoo. He will be an Imperial in 2022 with an Energy for Future (E4F) Fellowship funded through the Horizon 2020 Marie Sk?odowska-Curie Actions-COFUND program and led by Fundación Iberdrola España, a foundation founded by the Iberdrola Group. I participated in.
“We need more efficient photovoltaic devices,” he explains. “Currently, the maximum efficiency of these devices is around 20% for most, and 30% or more for more complex devices, but it will take that much to meet 70% of the world’s energy demand with solar power by 2050. is not enough, and many reports suggest it should be.
“New photovoltaic materials are needed to achieve higher efficiencies. It’s about helping you find ingredients.”
Using both techniques together reduces the enormous computational power required to perform quantum mechanics calculations, allowing us to find materials with the right properties more quickly.
Although Suhyun first studied materials science in her native South Korea, she joined Imperial from the materials research institute Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH in Düsseldorf, Germany, and received her PhD from the Ruhr-University Bochum. I worked there as a researcher.
His background was in quantum mechanics. He says he is still new to the field of machine learning, but his current job gives him the opportunity to apply his own expertise while learning and applying new techniques. I will give it to you. at the same time. ”
Being part of Imperial’s materials design group has exposed him to new ways of thinking about materials research. Everyone is doing computational materials science, but with different goals and different approaches. ”
The E4F scheme is coordinated at Imperial by the Energy Futures Lab, the university’s global energy research institute, to help researchers work on key technology-focused projects related to the energy transition and the green transformation of the economy. To do. group.
“The Iberdrola Group is one of the world’s leading energy companies and is leading the transition to a low-emission economy,” said Teresa Rodríguez de Tembleque, Head of Social and Training & Research Programs at Fundación Iberdrola España.
“Over the last 20 years, we have invested around €120 billion in developing sustainable energy models. We are proud to support breakthrough clean energy research through the E4F programme.”
Since joining the fellowship, Suhyun has become more convinced of the need for a rapid and transformative energy transition and is happy to contribute to it, but says the scheme has other benefits as well. .
“Thanks to this fellowship, I have had some wonderful experiences and have been able to interact with other researchers in a way that would otherwise not have been possible. I was able to attend the meeting of all fellows of the program and even meet the King of Spain!”
On a practical level, Suhyun says the fellowship is generous enough to support families living in London. This was important to him. He is interested in coming here, both from a research perspective and from a personal perspective. ”
Soohyun’s time at Imperial is coming to an end and he plans to return to South Korea soon to further develop his career at the Korea Institute of Chemical Technology.
“I encourage other researchers interested in clean energy technologies to explore the E4F fellowship program,” he says. “It’s been a great experience.”
More information about Imperial’s E4F Fellowship can be found here and on the program website.