Real Scientists is in Oxford, UK this week with Juliane Borchert (@PV_Physicist), a DPhil student in Condensed Matter Physics, Solar Cells, Renewable Energy at the University of Oxford.
Welcome to Real Scientists! Can you tell us a bit about how you got into physics?
In high school, I really liked all the sciences and excelled at them. I love to look at things in nature and technology, and try to work out how they work and why they behave like they do. I agonised for quite a while about which science to study in university and finally settled on physics because I believed it to be the most fundamental one.
While I initially got interested in Physics because it can answer some very fundamental questions about the world around us, I actually chose my current field because it is more applied. I like studying the fundamental properties of a material while also keeping in mind what it is good for.
What are you focusing on right now?
I work on materials for solar cells. Specifically, I work on a new class of solar materials called metal-halide perovskites. These materials are surprisingly easy to make and are great at converting the sun’s energy into electricity. In my research I work on optimising them for their use in solar cells and try to understand what about these materials makes them work so well for energy conversion.
What motivates you about your work?
Solar cells and other renewable energy technologies are an important step towards a cleaner, more sustainable way to satisfy the world’s demand for energy. My research will contribute to cheaper and more efficient solar cells which will be important for a cleaner energy future.
What do you do when you’re not in the lab?
When it comes to hobbies I do a bit of everything but nothing properly [RS Note: whomst among us…]. I weight-lift, sing in a choir, read, go for runs, grow vegetables and write poems. My ideal day off would be spend exploring a city I haven’t been to before and enjoying its museums, cafes and parks.
Juliane Borchert, welcome to Real Scientists!