Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015 - (Page 14)

Energy Agenda The Power of T An abundant supply of carbon-neutral energy. An electrocatalyst for batteries, made from eggplant. Smart windows that change their tint in response to sunlight. Pipe dreams? Hardly. These projects are the work of student researchers, and they're being recognized at top science competitions for their potential to revolutionize the way we produce, store, and conserve energy. Read on to learn about this groundbreaking research and the students who are conducting it. BETTER, BRIGHTER, SoLAR Solar energy use is on the rise, and that's a good thing: The sun's energy is natural and abundant, both clean and green. But because conventional solar cells are limited in the amount of light they can convert to electricity, they aren't very efficient. Valerie Ding, a high school senior from Portland, Oregon, with a lifelong interest in math and science, wanted to improve on them. It was in high school that Valerie learned about quantum physics-the science of things so small that laws governing matter don't apply. While quantum materials provide a new realm of possibilities for renewable, green energy, the concepts involved in quantum physics are notoriously difficult to grasp. In fact, Valerie realized, leading researchers were struggling to apply them. But that meant there were opportunities that had yet to be explored. To learn more, she asked a professor at Portland State University if she could observe quantum computing and physics classes. Then, while on a visit to CERN in 2012-a trip she won at the 2012 Intel ISEF for a project on LEDs-Valerie learned about quantum dots, tiny particles of semiconductor material that, when grouped on a solar cell, do a great job of absorbing light. No one, however, had found a way to determine the ideal design parameters to dictate quantum dot solar cell efficiency, so their potential remained untapped. Working independently over three years, Valerie combined elements of computer programming, physics, materials science, and engineering to develop an algorithm that simulates the quantum mechanical properties of lead sulfide quantum dot solar cells. Then, 14 imagine using her algorithm to predict the efficiency of a variety of quantum dot solar cells, Valerie found that the lead sulfide quantum dots are theoretically twice as efficient as the solar cells we typically see on roofs today. Her model, which may be used to help design the next generation of solar cells, has the potential to save years of research- and the millions of dollars needed to fund it. For her research, Valerie won a Fourth Award in Physics and Astronomy in the 2014 Intel Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). She was also a Google Science Fair regional finalist, a Davidson Fellow, a Siemens Competition regional finalist, and an Intel Science Talent Search finalist. May/June 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015

Big Picture
In My Own Words Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy, UC Berkeley
A Solar-Powered Solution to the Water Crisis Using the sun to purify water
The PolluCell Generating electricity using waste and pollution
More than a Race The Solar Car Challenge
Energy Agenda The power of teen research
Energized! A crash course in fuels of the future
Grease Is Good Helping the environment and the community with biofuel
Fueled by Algae Sara Volz and the powerful potential of pond scum
The Future of Energy Five careers in green power
My Sanskrit Yaatra Connecting with my culture through language
Devoted Awareness My internship with Until There’s a Cure
Selected Opportunities and Resources
Off the Shelf Review of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options Interview with green architect Andrew Thompson
One Step Ahead Six things incoming college students should know
Planning Ahead for College Developing your passions
Students Review: University of Pennsylvania
Creative Minds Imagine
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Games

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015