Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nature's Engineer

Inspired by 20.109, I wrote an article for my writing class about how human beings have changed from being Nature’s apprentices to becoming her engineers. Indeed, using bacteriophage to construct solar cells was completely mind-blowing for me, and I am glad that 20.109 provided us with such an invaluable chance to interact with top-notch faculty and work on their cutting-edge research ideas. This experience itself is extremely rewarding.

Coming from an EECS background, I was fairly comfortable with the concepts of solar cells, and I even knew how semiconductors work and how the choice of materials would impact the efficiency of the device. But the biggest lesson 109 taught me (apart from writing and speaking skills) is that many of the most exciting innovations happen at the interface between many seemingly irrelevant areas. Synthetic biology is a great example, and bio-templating is an even better one. I really appreciate the fact that there are so many ways to study the DSSC system, from mathematical modelling to TEM imaging, from discussing the pros and cons of the many ways by which M13 phage could be engineered to bind to Au NPs, to investigating the effects of NP sizes on light scattering. Apart from the interesting lab skills (among which doctor blading is my favourite one), Mod3 taught me to be a more systematic thinker, a more rational engineer, and a more creative designer. I am thrilled by the interesting connection between biology, material science, and electrical engineering, and this interdisciplinary viewpoint will certainly be beneficial for the rest of my research career.

I am proud to call myself a Nature’s engineer now.

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