Incoming: Dr. Ludmila Cojocaru, laureate of the “Make Our Planet Great Again” international research initiative
Ludmila Cojocaru, a Moldavian junior researcher from Germany, is one of the 12 laureates of the 3rd “Make Our Planet Great Again” (MOPGA) national call. Her research within the framework of this program at the University of Bordeaux’s Institute of Molecular Sciences focuses on energy storage, using solar cells and supercapacitors.
What brings you to Bordeaux?
After obtaining my Master at Moldova State University, my first experience at the University of Bordeaux was my doctoral degree in the field of physical chemistry of condensed materials. To this day, I’m still very grateful towards my supervisors for the opportunity to work on a topic that not only has followed me throughout my career, but has also become my passion: the synthesis of inorganic materials (semiconductors) and their application for the fabrication of last generation solar cells, so called Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells (DSCs).
After my PhD in 2012, I was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) at the University of Tokyo, within the framework of the Japanese-French Laboratory for Next Generation Photovoltaic Cells (LiaNextPV).
My work focused on improving the stability of liquid-type DSCs by replacing the liquid electrolyte with solid-type materials, in collaboration with the Laboratoire de Chimie des Polymères Organiques (LCPO) - University of Bordeaux, and the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) - University of Tokyo.
In 2014 I pursued my scientific career in the same research group at the University of Tokyo, this time as a pioneering junior researcher in the field of the newly discovered Perovskite-sensitized Solar Cells (PSCs).
I decided to return to Europe in 2017, and joined the University of Freiburg (Germany), where I took on the challenge of working on new processing strategies for the fabrication of PSCs, and more specifically on the evaporation process, which was then extended to perovskite-silicon tandem application. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to broaden my knowledge in different fields, working in collaboration with high-level experts in silicon photovoltaics, such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, where I was also hosted as guest researcher.
After discovering the MOPGA call for applications for concrete solutions to fight against climate change, I decided to submit a project proposal for the 3rd MOPGA phase, with the help of the University of Bordeaux’s Institute of Molecular Science research groups. I was absolutely thrilled when I found out that my proposal on solar cells and supercapacitors had obtained funding, and that I would be returning to Bordeaux. This success is due in part to my previous international experience in the field of photovoltaics and last generation solar cells.
What work are you hoping to accomplish here in Bordeaux?
Throughout my three year stay, my research project will focus on the design andfabrication of energy conversion and storage devices. My objective is to integrate perovskite solar cells with supercapacitors, in order to create energy conversion and storage devices connected by a common electrode based on activated carbon.
Renewable solar energy will be used for photovoltaic conversion, using the last generation of solar cells based on perovskites. We will then attempt to store the energy produced throughout the day in a supercapacitor, thus creating a device capable of generating continuous power, night and day, using stored energy when demand increases.
The activated carbon will be extracted from the biomass of coconut shells, thanks to the expertise of the National Institute of Fundamental Studies (Sri Lanka). We hope to recycle the biomass as a source of carbon, therefore preserving natural carbon sources, which are usually extracted from fossil fuels.
The “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative is a great opportunity for me to devote my knowledge and energy to preventing global warming, as well as to creating a research cluster in the field of perovskite solar cells, with both national and international high-level groups.
I’m very thankful for the support provided by the University of Bordeaux and the Institute of Molecular Sciences, who are hosting the project and providing me with access to cutting-edge photovoltaic communities, as well as state-of-the-art facilities, such as the ELORPrintTec platform, which is unique in France.
What have you learned so far from your stay in Bordeaux?
First of all, my French has vastly improved! Despite having learnt French at high school, it’s really thanks to communicating in French in my host laboratory that my level has improved. I’ve also very much appreciated the kindness of the French people that I’ve met and have enjoyed discovering just some of the beautiful places in Bordeaux such as the miroir d’eau and the renovated docks.
Make Our Planet Great Again
In 2015, 195 countries ratified the Paris Agreement at the COP21 Paris climate conference. This agreement represents a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to significantly limiting man-made global warming.
Two years later, in response to the United States’ decision to leave the Paris Agreement, the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, called upon the international community to join France in the fight against global warming, thus launching the “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative. It is a global call to students, researchers, entrepreneurs, associations, NGOs and all civil society to mobilize and join France in the fight against global warming.