Interview with Student Speech Award Winner Michela Prete at the Summer School Event 2020

by Dirk Buchhauser

Michela Prete was giving a speech at the Photovoltaic Summer School 2020 of the Southern Denmark University and the Technical Danish University and was awarded with the Best Student Speech Award. Beside a 100 pounds voucher for the Educational Program of the University of Cambridge, she is interviewed by us to present herself. Enjoy the interview…

My name is Michela Prete I am 27 years old and I come from Potenza (Italy). I have done my bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering in Universitá degli Studi della Basilicata and then my master’s degree in Mechatronic Engineering in Micro and Nano technology in Sønderborg, Denmark. I am currently a PhD fellow in Professor Morten Madsen group of Organic Photovoltaics in University of Southern Denmark (SDU). I work in the field of stability of organic photovoltaics focusing on additive implementation for photochemical and mechanical stability of OPV devices. I have also worked with metal oxides interlayers and perovskites stability.
In my free time I love to exercise and read novels. I am a huge foodie and a big Marvel fan.

Visit Michela at SDU
Check out her research history at ResearchGate
Follow her on LinkedIn How was your experience in attending and presenting at the virtual PV Summer School Event?
Michela: The virtual PV summer school event was really nicely structured and full of content. Being a PhD or researcher you have to cross-field sometimes to better understand what you are working on and this summer school was perfect in this sense. Having different experts presenting on different aspects and devices, all in the PV technology field, was enlightening. Presenting was easy and having the presentations spread on the different days had also the positive effect of making each of them unique! What have you benefited from the most in this event?
Michela: Probably I am repeating myself but, I loved the variety of the different talks. Coming from a purely organic PV side, getting to know something outside of our small box has been very nice and profitable. Also, getting to know has been very good. I think that your project was really necessary to unite the OPV community. You are working on OPV projects. What makes it exciting to work in that field?
Michela: This is a very easy question. PV technology has a lot of environmental gains when seen in the light of renewable energy production and OPV stands in the same direction. The idea of contributing to a field that is trying to change the rules for energy production is exciting. Particularly with OPV, what I find mesmerizing is the “flexibility” of the technology. What I mean with flexibility is how much we can change the physical properties of the devices in a quite straight forward way. Together with having the possibility of creating the shapes we want, tuning the molecules and polymers we utilize can change color, flexibility and overall application of the OPV we fabricate. This is amazing! What are your scientific passions? What would you like to do in the future?
Michela: I describe myself as a bit of a hybrid. I am an engineer by education so I love working on the device prospective and the macro properties of what I am building. That said on the same time I have always been fascinated by the physics and chemistry ruling the nanoscale. Being in the organic technology field allows me to be a bit of both and I find myself perfectly shaped for this field. If I have to say what I hope I will be able to do, in a side of my mind I have always thought about finding a way to combine the biomedical field in what I do.
To shortly answer your question, I can definitely say that I see myself working in the field of organic technology for quite a bit more, I am pretty sure about it! What would you like to see happening in terms of next technological breakthroughs?
Michela: Being honest this is quite a difficult question. If I think about the environmental crisis the world is going thought, I really hope that we will be able to find a sustainable way to cover the energy consumption that the world needs today. Doing this is not that easy but everything starts with a small step. If we will be able to reach good stability with environmentally friendly solvents, I think the world may be ready for the OPV technology to be out in the large scale market. Going a bit out of what is strictly my field, I also think that we should invest more in the field of food production and transportation. Maybe not everybody knows that food is accountable for circa 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. What you eat has the stronger impact on the environment but buying locally can be a first small step. Of course this is not always possible so what I hope is that soon enough we will be able to have sustainable, efficient but still relatively cheap transportation (that today accounts for 6% of emissions).
This would of course be a double sided effort since a sustainable “goods” transportation can also then be transformed in a future sustainable but still affordable human transportation.

Thanks, Michela for the interview and good luck and fun for your future career!

The Team

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