5th November – Science Cafe
The Swansea Science Café offers opportunities for anyone to find out more about new, exciting and topical areas of science. As part of the Swansea Science Café and the Dylan Thomas Festival, Peter Douglas has organized a hands-on workshop/talk on Sunlight to Electricity, funded by the National HE STEM Programme. The event is free, fun, interactive and suitable for all age ranges.
From Sunlight to Electricity: How Mimicking Photosynthesis Promises a Greener Future
Dr Matthew Davies, Bangor University, funded by the National HE STEM Programme
Saturday 5th Nov at 11am
Dylan Thomas Centre
The generation of energy is one of the most important scientific and technological challenges that face humankind in the 21st century. If we take a metaphorical leaf from nature’s book; photosynthesis harvests sufficient solar energy to fuel the planet’s biosphere. Thus, photosynthesis can be thought of as a cheap, reliable, carbon neutral form of solar cell on an enormous scale. Dye sensitized solar cells (DSC) can be considered as a form of artificial photosynthesis because they operate in a similar way to photosynthesis.
DSC can attain light-to-electrical energy conversion efficiencies of over 10% and raise hopes for clean, safe, economical solar energy conversion that work even in low-light conditions. DSC are therefore able to work under cloudy skies and indirect sunlight (perfect for Wales and the UK!); this is not possible with current solar cell technology which ceases to work efficiently below certain illumination levels. DSC are, in fact, so sensitive to light that they can be used indoors, collecting energy for small devices from the lighting in a house.
The advantages of DSC, and how DSC can play a major part in a ‘greener’ future, will be discussed. Wales is currently at the forefront of science and innovation in DSC technology; some of the research that is driving this technology forward, which is happening here in Wales, will be highlighted.
With iodine, fruit juice, and a few simple materials, you can create a working solar cell that mimics the process of photosynthesis. This lecture will also include a ‘hands-on’ workshop on how dye sensitised solar cells are made and will involve fabricating and testing solar cells with the before mentioned materials.