The race against energy is on. The battlegrounds: Renewable sources, longer battery lives, and cheaper manufacturing. Throughout the night the exciting futures of photovoltaics and plastic batteries will be explored, each a bid to satisfy the demands of an advancing technological society. Please note there are stairs up to the venue so it may not be accessible for people with impaired mobility.
20 years ago it was fair to say that photovoltaics (PV) was a niche and expensive electricity generation technology. Things have changed in many countries and PV is now one of the cheapest ways to generate electricity. Economic changes such as mass manufacture in China mean it is growing fast. Where next? The cost of PV has plateaued and there are fewer opportunities to reduce costs. It is likely PV efficiency can be increased by stacking cells to capture sunlight of multiple colours. I'll tell the story of the race to the bottom, and the coming race back to the top.
Lithium ion batteries are a key component in many modern devices and the use is predicted to grow significantly in the future. Despite this rising demand, we presently lack safe, easy to process, low cost batteries. I will discuss how recent developments in materials science can be used to address this, and how fundamental new insights within the physics of disordered materials including glasses and gels can be directly applied to the design of new types of battery electrolytes.