Solar Energy Physicist

Qualifications

A-level

Physics, Mathematics, History

Degree

Physics with a year in Europe (Imperial College London)

PhD

Quantum Solar Technology (Imperial College London)

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Jess works on developing the next generation of solar cells.

Jess chose to study physics with a year in Europe for her degree after her A-levels. "Many universities offer degrees with a placement in another country. I spent my placement in France, it was great. I met loads of people, experienced a new culture, and learned how to snowboard - (badly!)."

After her degree, Jess studied a PhD in solar energy. "I really care about the environment and I knew that I wanted to work in renewable energy - but many of the jobs require specialist training. My PhD research focussed on increasing the efficiency of solar cells.  Higher efficiency cells convert more of the sun's energy into electrical energy, and increasing efficiency is important if solar cells are to be used on a bigger scale so that we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels."

Jess now works in the USA. "I met my current employer at a conference in Hawaii, where I was presenting the results of PhD research. I work for a small company in Chicago developing very thin solar cells that can be rolled up like a blanket, then used to produce electricity while on the move."

"When a lot of people think about solar energy, they often think of it in terms of the fight against climate change, but the fact that solar cells do not need to be connected to the grid is also important, they can produce electricity out in remote areas that otherwise would not have power. This can have a huge impact on education in places like sub-Saharan Africa and villages in India - solar panels can be used to charge up torches and allow people to learn and read after a day at work."

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