Ulrich Paetzold (KIT)
Ulrich Paetzold is a tenure-track professor at the Institute of Microstructure Technology and at the Light Technology Institute and heads the Next Generation Photovoltaics group. He received an ERC Consolidator Grant of more than 2 million euros from the European Research Council in 2022 to research the feasibility of a radically new idea over the next 5 years. Paetzold wants to develop a lamination process that can be used to produce solar cells in a completely new way. Instead of depositing the individual layers sequentially, in the lamination process two different materials are applied separately to substrates and then, in a sense, glued together - laminated - with pressure and temperature."
In this interview, he tells us what drives him and what he hopes for the future.
What are you currently working on?
Ulrich Paetzold: I am researching and developing new materials, processes and device architectures for tandem solar cells based on perovskite semiconductors.
Why is this important?
Ulrich Paetzold: For end users, the attractiveness of photovoltaics increases with efficiency. That is, solar cells are more attractive the more electricity is generated per area. The efficiency can be increased by stacking two or more solar cells, if each solar cell is particularly efficient at absorbing a different part of the sunlight spectrum.
Perovskite solar cells are ideally suited as a component of tandem solar cells thanks to their high optoelectronic quality and versatility. This innovative technology is based on thin films of perovskite semiconductors, a group of materials that has only been known for less than 15 years. Researchers around the world are currently working hard to bring perovskite photovoltaics into application.
What is the aim?
Ulrich Paetzold: My team and I are researching and developing innovative materials, processes and new device architectures to address key technology challenges: Efficiency, stability, and scalable manufacturing processes. The ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council will allow us to address a radical new approach to perovskite semiconductor film fabrication over the next 5 years. We want to develop a lamination process to produce new and better perovskite semiconductor layers at even lower cost.
What is your personal motivation?
Ulrich Paetzold: I am a photovoltaicist with all my heart. I am fascinated by this technology and love what it does - the sun shines every day and photovoltaics uses this inexhaustible source of energy.
What kind of challenges are you facing in the near future?
Ulrich Paetzold: The energy turnaround is a huge task of the highest priority for my generation and the generations to come. To accelerate the energy turnaround, it is imperative that the financial and social costs continue to fall. We must not lose any time. My research is intended to contribute to this.
If you could make a wish for something for your research, what would you wish for?
Ulrich Paetzold: Curiosity, creativity and the desire to help shape change drive me. I wish that this thirst for knowledge will never die out and that it will lead me and my team to creative and new technological solutions.
Wo siehst du deine Disziplin in 5-10 Jahren?
Ulrich Paetzold: Perovskite photovoltaics has the potential to make a breakthrough in this period and revolutionize the photovoltaic market. The technology will help to further reduce the cost of electricity. However, there are still some technological challenges to be solved in terms of material stability and large-scale manufacturing of the technology. I am optimistic that we will be able to do this!