Tuesday, May 5, 2015

When All Goes Wrong (and There's No Teaching Faculty There to Save You[r Experiment])

Preface
So I am not exactly sure why the team with the highest efficiency gets a prize when we didn't actually get to choose what size gold nanoparticles we were using, but the lack of personal investment in design choices did help alleviate my anxiety when our poor solar cell was subjected to a lot of mistreatment!

That Moment When Your Paste is Dropped on the Ground (by Someone Else) :(
Everything was going smoothly until the day we actually started to assemble our solar cells. 

Our paste was meager and dried up, resulting in us having to ethanol the first place we put our square (there was still a smear after we tried to wipe it with ethanol) and relocate our square to an edge. David tried to mix more TiO2 paste into our phage paste, with little-to-no success. [Redacted] actually ended up trying to put our phage paste straight onto the middle of the square instead of the area we were trying to mix the TiO2 paste with our phage paste, which eventually yielded our first layer as a very non-homogeneous layer of TiO2 paste with one purple dot in the middle. (We also felt really guilty because we were holding everyone up on the baking step!!)

The second layer fared no better. While the slide + first layer was in the oven, we tried to mix more TiO2 paste into our phage paste and managed to get most of it onto the end of a pipette tip... which was then promptly dropped by a certain 20.109 helper!!! (It was still dry and chalky anyways.)

Reconciling Lost Victory
At that point, we were pretty much just really amused at how much went wrong and had accepted defeat. I personally felt kind of dumbfounded that we were actually going to use our solar cell when it had gone through so much brutality. I guess I was used to the teaching faculty taking care of things when things went wrong for us, as in all of module 1 and all of the bad gels, so I never really internalized mess-ups. Thus, I think my take-home from this entire ordeal has been that lab is indeed easy to mess up and the teaching faculty definitely won't always be there to troubleshoot for me! (Sadly...)

But Somehow It Still Worked (a Little Bit)
1.8% efficiency, woo!! We give a special thanks to [redacted]'s magic floor dust! 

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