Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Module 3 was Pretty Mind-blowing

The idea behind module 3 was very pretty mind-blowing….who knew that you could create a solar cell out of bacteriophage!?!  Before completing mod3, if someone had told me that you could create convert sunlight into electricity by using a virus, I would have thought that person was crazy.

But long behold, we did this in mod 3!  It was also really cool to use fancy technology such as the TEM and the machine that measured solar call efficiency.  I really enjoyed being able to work in the Koch Institute and in building 13 in addition to working in our regular lab class because it made things more interesting by being able to work in different settings.  It also felt like a mini field trip when we travelled from our lab to the Koch or building 13 and reminded me of the good ole days of elementary school when we were excited to leave class for a little to “explore.”

When it came to the TEM testing, I didn’t expect to see a lot of gold.  However to my surprise, we found a “gold mine” in our sample.  I even remember Professor Belcher describing how the gold nanoparticles looked “beautiful” while interspersed amongst the phage.  I thought it was super cool that we were seeing actual gold on a super nano scale, but I don’t think I was able to full appreciate the “beauty” that Professor Belcher had witnessed because to me, the gold nanoparticles just looked like black dots on the screen.  Maybe it’ll take me many more years of studying the M13 phage and becoming more familiar with viewing TEM images.

When it came to solar cell efficiency testing, our group ended up achieving the highest solar cell efficiency!  This was a surprise to us because we were the last group to have our solar cells tested so we had heard all of the efficiencies of previous groups…and most of the numbers were in the ~1% range or even lower, however there was one group with a 2.8 efficiency and we thought that this was the winner.  But then when we went up to have our solar cell tested, we ended up racking a solar efficiency of 2.88!  Hannah and I were so excited to receive such good results because we had received really inconclusive and confusing results during mod 2.

Overall, I think this module was my favorite module because the idea behind the module was the most novel.  Not having to write a huge paper made it that much sweeter.  I hope this module stays for next year because I’m sure that the next 20.109ers will be just as mind-blown about the goal of the module and will be able to appreciate its novelty.   

-Joseph Han

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