At yesterday’s MRS we were treated to an interesting run down of the history and future of thin film solar photovoltaics by Lawrence Kazmerski from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, US. His main point was that ‘thin film photovoltaics are no longer the outlier,’ referring to the fact that bulk silicon originally took centre stage in the solar cell area. Interesting facts he used to back up his point included that companies making thin film photovoltaics received $1 billion (£0.6 billion) in investment from venture capitalists in 2008, up from less than $400 million in 2007. And that the production of thin film solar cells doubled between 2005 and 2007.


The winners of the ‘famous’ MRS science as art competition were also announced on Thursday morning. The first prize was shared by a SEM image of a broken SiC/SiC composite from Francois Williame’s group at CEA/Saclay in France (left – click to see a bigger version), an image of a single crystalline diamond grain that is anisotropically etched by hot spheres of molton Ni by Waldemar Smirnow at Fraunhofer IAF in


Freiberg, Germany (right), and a black and green swirly image (Sorry – I’m not very good at desribing art!) called Van Gogh Nanotubes with no additional information given (below).  Pictures of all the entries should be put on the MRS website shortly. Also look out for some of these images in our Chemistry through the lens page in upcoming issues of Chemistry World.


Finally, before I sign off from my week of listening to academics talk about their work and return home to the start of the Christmas party season, I thought I’d share a Christmas cracker joke with you to help you get in the festive mood: What do you call an underground train full of professors? A tube of smarties!


Nina Notman

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