The European Kesterite workshops is a fairly young and rapidly-growing event series. Kesterite solar cells with the formula Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4 are a long-term candidate for terawatt "country-scale" solar generation. Third-year DTC student Adam Jackson attended this year's meeting to support his PhD project and share some early results.
Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin took their turn in hosting the event at Adlershof on the same site as the BESSY II synchrotron. The meeting was a rare opportunity as a student to hear about the day-to-day challenges of producing samples; not all "common knowledge" is publishable! In general this was a "no cameras" event, offering a preview of the next few months' research papers. While the great advantage of kesterite solar cells is that nominally they are expected to be very cheap, at this stage the material is proving extremely difficult to produce consistently at high quality.
Even with numbers restricted to "active" participants, there were around 80 delegates and a new pre-workshop was introduced this year for PhD students. This gave the 40 students a chance to have some structured discussion; I was also invited to give a talk on this day. Although I was the only computational chemist in the room, this was a very friendly audience and a few useful ideas emerged from the discussion.
All in all, the workshop was a valuable experience; as well as providing useful information, such events are a good way into the international research community. It exposed me to some frank context and personalities that are hard to glean purely from reading the literature.