Capturing the light
RiAus is excited to feature the work of Emma Lawrance, a science communication student and blogger. Emma interviews young and inspiring scientists, and shares their stories, passions and challenges. Emma has kindly given RiAus permission to republish content from her ‘Scientist in the Spotlight’ series. Emma’s blog is The Lab of Life.
Scientist in the Spotlight: Dr Kylie Catchpole
Degree: Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Physics
PhD research: Solar photovoltaic technology
Current Research: Plasmonic solar cell technology (nano-scale optics)
Australia is truly a sunburnt country. While this has meant greater rates of melanoma and farmers struggling with drought, it also means we could become a nation powered by sunshine. In fact, we could power our entire country using just 1% of our surface area, using the latest in solar technology. And helping us reach this goal is Dr Kylie Catchpole, an ARC Research Fellow from the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems at the Australian National University. Her team has recently developed a more efficient solar cell using silver nanoparticles. This was named by MIT in 2010 as “one of the world’s ten most important emerging technologies” and saw her win ABC’s The New Inventors in May.
She was also named the ACT Winner of the Australian Institute of Policy and Science Tall Poppy Awards in 2009 and her work has featured in Science and The Economist.
Kylie is someone I can relate well to. Not in the “won a stack of awards for doing ground breaking research” kind of way, but because she loves physics and maths and has a passion for the environment and conservation. She wanted to do research, but in something that she would be passionate about because she felt she could make a real contribution.
And she has definitely found it. It’s just another example showing that if you follow your passions and interests, opportunities will arise in areas you may never have thought of. It’s an inspiring story. I also really love that her supervisor pushed her into communicating her science early on. She really recognises the value of engaging with the public about what is happening in science.
I caught up with her the other day to here more about solar technology, “Plasmonic Light Trapping”, a career as a researcher and where Kylie sees science fitting into society.
By Emma Lawrance, The Lab of Life