From 26 November to 1 December I attended the 2017 Boston MRS Fall Meeting. This major conference was a great experience, full of talks and poster sessions covering the hot topics of materials science. In addition, I was lucky enough that this year there was a specific symposium covering the main topic of my PhD, entitled: ‘ESO2: On the Way to Sustainable Solar Fuels-New Concepts, Materials and System Integration’, where I got inspired from experts of the field. I attended interesting talks by Professor Avner Rotschild on Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting for Solar Energy Conversion and Storage, Professor Juan Morante on Solar Refineries for CO2 reduction, Dr Yasuhiro Tachibana on Quantum Dots, Professor Lionel Vayssieres on Design, Performance and Stability of Photocatalyts for water splitting and many others!
On Monday evening I presented my poster in the ESO2 symposium, a two-hour long poster session from 8pm to 10pm! The number of people attending the session was massive so I had the opportunity to discuss my work with many researchers and establish research collaborations with other groups. In addition, on Wednesday evening I also attended the second poster session of the same symposium where I met other researchers working in a variety of fields.
Even though I spent most of the week attending the ESO2 symposium (about solar fuels) I also attended a few sessions of the ESO3 symposium: ‘Earth abundant Metal Oxides, Sulfides and Selenides for Energy systems and devices’. This symposium was more focused on the synthesis and features of the materials. This is extremely important for energy applications, especially water splitting, since different morphologies and compositions can change a lot the final performance and efficiency of the photocatalyst.
During the conference I also attended other sessions, such as the ‘International Summit of MRS University Chapters on Sustainability and Nanotechnology’. These sessions covered key sustainability topics in a broad manner. For instance, one session covered the background of water splitting and the key topics that need to be tackled to bring this technology into the real market. Two great speakers of this session were Professor Hicham Idriss from Saudi Arabia and Professor Lionel Vayssieres from China. Professor Idriss gave an overview of advantages and disadvantages that a large scale photoelectrochemical reactor has. On the other hand, Professor Vayssieres highlighted his main research topics and key publications dealing with metal oxides and water splitting.
Furthermore, being in Boston for a week also gave me the opportunity to visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus and the MIT museum. The MIT museum was really interesting! It had several exhibitions: Robots and Beyond, Big Bang Data and Holography: Dimensions of light. The Holography exhibition was of particular interest since you could get an insight of how the eyes, brain and light play a key role to create a 3D image.
Miriam is a second year PhD student working with Dr Salvador Eslava on the development of metal oxides for solar water splitting.