Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nicole Kuepper: Winner of an Australian Science Oscar

Australians have a new favorite scientist: 23-year-old graduate student Nicole Kuepper has won the People's Choice Award in the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes. It's actually a double win, since she's also receiving the British Council Eureka Prize for Young Leaders in Environmental Issues and Climate Change.

Kuepper is a PhD student and lecturer at the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering at the University of New South Wales. While there she and her colleagues developed and patented the iJET solar cell, which can be made cheaply from common items such as nail polish, an inkjet printer and a pizza oven. According to an article in The Australian:

"Nicole's iJET solar cell will potentially bring affordable electricity to the poorest people in the world, but more than this, it will be clean and renewable."

Current production techniques for photovoltaic, or solar, cells make them expensive, but the iJET can be made without high-tech environments or components.
Kuepper has be interested in the technology every since her parents gave her a solar energy kit for her 10th birthday. But she's not just interested in the engineering side of solar power:
An advocate of green technology, she gives talks about solar energy to the public, has held miniature solar car races to teach indigenous children about renewable energy, and was a delegate at the 2020 Youth Summit in Canberra in April.
It's understandable how the technology and Kuepper caught the public's imagination.

For more technical information, here's a recent publication:
Kuepper, N., Utama, R., Guo, A., Wells, M., Ho, AWY, and Wenham, SR. “Photovoltaic technology for developing countries” 22nd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (Milan, 2007) (pdf)
(via Dvice and Abby @ The Hacker Chick Blog)

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Marimoy said...

She's so young! That's amazing. I am glad she won... even if she did make me feel old.