[Image above] “Meet and Greet” on Day 1 of MCARE-EHS 2021. Credit: Eva Hemmer
By Rishabh Kundu and Alessandro De Zanet
This year, the Materials Challenges in Alternative & Renewable Energy 2021 (MCARE 2021) combined with the 4th Annual Energy Harvesting Society Meeting (EHS 2021) took place virtually July 19–22 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rishabh Kundu and Alessandro De Zanet, two ACerS student members, attended the event. This CTT is a contributed post describing their experience at the conference during the first two days. Another contributed post will appear next week describing the last two days.
Day 1: Nanomaterials for energy research
Day 1 formally started with a beautiful plenary talk by Taeghwan Hyeon, professor at Seoul National University and director of the Center for Nanoparticle research at the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea, titled “Chemistry for nano, and nano for medicine and energy.”
Prior to the plenary talk, we were fortunate to attend a “Meet and Greet” featuring Eva Hemmer, MCARE lead organizer and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, Canada; Sanjay Mathur, MCARE co-organizer and director of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Cologne, Germany; Yoon-Bong Hahn, MCARE co-organizer and professor at Jeonbuk National University, South Korea; ACerS president Dana Goski; and plenary speaker Hyeon.
We asked Hyeon if he has ever been inspired by nature for his research on nanoscience and technology. He enthusiastically answered that he has indeed been inspired by mother nature and highlighted that during his talk.
When asked about the commercialization aspect of his research, he said it is his dream to see his group’s work commercialized but also advised young researchers to not initiate research with commercialization in mind. He further added that it is essential to persistently solve fundamental problems and then scale up, not the other way around.
Hyeon recommended living a simple life (he spends his own time either writing or reading research papers) and staying physically active. He plays 15–20 hours of tennis per week! He also stressed the importance of trying out new things and the significance of collaboration and friendship in today’s world.
While we tried to attend as many sessions as possible, we were bound by our human capabilities. We witnessed many excellent speakers and want to highlight a few as “Bloggers’ Choice” for Day 1.
(MCARE-013-2021) Biosynthesis of inorganic nanomaterials and their energy harvesting and storage applications presented by Y. Choi, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea.
- This presentation stood out from many presentations because of the biosynthesis aspect, which is not very common for energy harvesting and storage applications. It was eye-opening to learn about how microorganisms can find applications as biofactories for manufacturing inorganic nanomaterials.
(MCARE-040-2021) A-site cation engineering in bismuth perovskite-inspired materials for solar cells presented by F. Uenlue, University of Cologne, Germany.
- It was a holistic presentation that exposed us to the main challenges of perovskite solar cells, perils of using lead, potential alternatives to lead, the presenter’s research on lead substitution with bismuth, the properties that follow, and the set-backs which ought to be solved.
(MCARE-042-2021) Materials characterization – where modelling meets experiment presented by K. Hermansson, affiliated with Uppsala University, Sweden.
- This presentation was an invited talk that exposed the attendees to the overlapping zone of modelling and experiments. It compared many experimental results with simulative results and attempted to tell us about the reliability of modelling. In today’s world, where data is gold/oil, it was a brilliant presentation topic. We reached out to the presenter through Zoom chat and enquired if modelling can completely replace trial-and-error experiments; the presenter said we are still far away from that point and that, at least for now, experiments are going to stay.
Eva Hemmer, lead organizer of MCARE and session chair of MCARE S5: Materials for Upconversion, Downconversion/Quantum Cutting, Luminescent Downshifting I, had this to say about the first day of the conference:
“The conference opening with the ‘meet the speaker’ session was definitely a highlight! It was a pleasure to see our speaker answering so openly your questions. And with respect to Symposium S5, I enjoyed the diversity of our first two sessions revolving around upconverting and downshifting lanthanide-based materials, addressing key questions how to bring these materials into real-life applications—ranging from synthesis to quantum yield assessment, from nanomaterials to glass-ceramics, and from single particles to bulk properties. I cannot forget to mention the pleasure in meeting friends and colleagues, though it is still a pity that we saw each other only on a screen and not in Seattle.”
Day 2: Thermoelectrics in energy research
The plenary talk by G. Jeffrey Snyder, professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, titled “Thermoelectrics for distributed cooling and energy harvesting” marked the beginning of Day 2. The talk included a lovely reference to the Voyager Program at NASA!
We reached out to Snyder after the talk to ask if thermoelectric generators can replace external charging needs for small-scale applications. He says that as a rule of thumb, their efficiencies can go up to 20% (though it has a heavy dependence on the change in temperature). While it is a wonderful supplement to external charging, it is difficult to complement it.
Live poster presentations with nonoverlapping symposiums were a unique addition to Day 2. While poster presenters had the option to pre-upload their work or demonstrate it live, most of them chose to go with the former option, likely because of the time zone differences.
We were fortunate to witness a fascinating live poster presentation: “Design of an ultrastable and highly active ceria catalyst for CO oxidation by rare-earth- and transition-metal Co-doping” presented by H. Kim, Pohang University of Science and Technology, South Korea.
After the live poster presentations, the symposiums took place. We again witnessed many intriguing presentations and the Bloggers’ Choice for the day are
(EHS-014-2021) Thermoelectric system economics—The apex: New paradigms in manufacturing and interface performance driving system cost optimizations presented by T.J. Hendricks, NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, U.S.A.
- This invited talk beautifully demonstrated terrestrial thermal and power advances while symbolizing NASA’s mission on thermal and power requirements.
(EHS-005-2021) High power factor versus high zT in thermoelectric materials and generators presented by A. Feldhoff, Leibniz University Hannover, Germany.
- This invited talk exposed us to critical fundamental factors relevant to thermoelectric materials and nicely complemented the plenary talk of the day.
(MCARE-050-2021) Toward biosourced materials for electrochemical energy storage: The case of melanin biopigments and tannins presented by C. Santato, Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, Canada.
- This invited talk focused on the use of abundant and/or bio-sourced raw materials-based development and taking care of the developed product’s fate after their lifetime, thereby focusing on a cradle-cradle approach and not the conventional cradle-grave approach.
All the abstracts of the presentations and posters are available on the MCARE-EHS 2021 official website at this link.
Stay tuned for the blog post next week on the last two days of MCARE-EHS 2021, including the student-favorite event—PowerPoint Karaoke!
Acknowledgments: The bloggers are grateful to Eva Hemmer for offering them the opportunity to blog for MCARE-EHS 2021. The bloggers also thank Lisa McDonald and Eileen De Guire for their guidance and assistance.