Imperial College London

CPE and PE-CDT at the Great Exhibition Road Festival 2019

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Solar-powered cars, dinosaurs, helicopters and beetles

CPE and PE-CDT postdocs, students and support staff presented The Solar Generation at extremely popular Great Exhibition Road Festival 2019.

The sun was shining on The Solar Generation stand on Saturday 29 June as we set up our demonstrations on what was to be the hottest day of the year. It continued to shine over the course of the weekend providentially powering our devices. We were joined by the Durrant Group (Chemistry), who demonstrated solar fuels and other photovoltaic technologies.

Often frequently given a bad press these days, the CPE and PE-CDT demonstrated one of the positive ways in which plastic technology can be applied in the real world: using plastic-laminated flexible, transparent and lightweight solar cells as an alternative to silicon photovoltaics. Our panels were powering computer fans and LEDs and envisaged a greener, less toxic future.

Aspiring photochemists learnt more about how we use absorption of light to identify defects in devices with an ingenious analogy involving a holey slide and marbles!

Also on the stand was a "Flappy Bird" game to demonstrate the different efficiencies of silicon, organic and perovskite PV cells and the concept of solar fuels was demonstrated by connecting an electrolyser for splitting hydrogen and oxygen from water with a solar panel and powering toy cars with hydrogen fuel.

Solar-powered cars, dinosaurs, helicopters and beetles captured the imagination of children and triggered many discussions about harnessing the power of the sun to meet our future energy needs.

The Festival gave researchers the chance to interact with members of the community at large, get the public interested in solar energy, talk about solar 'beyond silicon', disseminate knowledge about solar energy conversion, and guide and encourage prospective students.

The stand was presented by Anna Wilson, Sacha Corby, Chiara Labanti, Lisa Bushby, Niloufar Raeis-Hosseini, Chloe Forester, Amber Parhar, Alexander Wieczorek, Nathaniel Gallop, Yifei Wang, Yizhen Zheng, Lingyu Zou, Gihan Ryu, Brian Tam, Richard Pacalaj and Yifan Dong.

  • Solar-powered cars, dinosaurs, spiders, helicopters and beetles

    Solar-powered cars, dinosaurs, spiders, helicopters and beetles

  • Sacha explaining solar fuels

    Sacha explaining solar fuels

  • solar toys

Reporter

Lisa Bushby

Lisa Bushby
Department of Physics