This year I have been thinking a lot about the knowledge and technology transfer from lab to practice. Even when being a scientist working on the development and studies of new sustainable materials and technologies for photovoltaic applications such as solar panels on rooftops, building or vehicle integrated solar modules etc., I have to follow the market and technology trends, materials supply risks, recyclability issues and regulations and all other aspects that directly influence your technology development in the lab. Strictly writing, it does not make sense to develop a technology that cannot be commercialised at one point due to the use of scarce elements, for example. It takes quite a lot of effort to follow the trends in all relevant fields in addition to the developments in your own field of research. And honestly, is it enough if you know something about everything? Not really, if you want to make a difference with your work.
From this year and during the next three and a half years, I am excited and happy to collaborate with excellent researchers and relevant companies around Europe in the European Commission Innovation Action project CUSTOM-ART (Disruptive kesterites-based thin film technologies customised for challenging architectural and active urban furniture applications) where we join forces complementary knowledge and experience for faster development towards commercialization of one of the most promising sustainable photovoltaic technologies – kesterite based thin film photovoltaics.
For the first time a project in our field is following the cradle-to-grave approach as the circular economy is the future. The knowledge on the market trends, recyclability issues, regulations in the building sector – all this is brought to the project by the experts in these fields. A truly intersectoral and interdisciplinary project. And what a relief, I have an expert to turn to instead of spending countless hours trying to know something about everything to follow the right track in our technology development.
Let’s work together!
Maarja Grossberg is a professor of optoelectronic materials physics in Tallinn University of Technology. Her research is focused on the development of materials and technologies for photovoltaic applications. In 2020, she was awarded with the L´Oréal Baltic – UNESCO “For Women in Science” scholarship.