I am interested in communicating scientific concepts through multimedia art projects and curricula. I have chosen to focus my thesis on Solar Energy, particularly on Natural Dye Sensitized Solar Cells, a type of solar cell that uses plant matter (natural dyes in particular) in place of the silicon used in photovoltaic cells.
My research and experimentation in Thesis thus far has consisted of the development of a series of moderately cheap but somewhat inefficient Natural Dye Sensitized Cell prototypes. Learning to make the cells and figuring out how they work involved digging through a lot of dense scientific papers and a huge learning curve in the fields of physics and chemistry, which prior to this I had zero experience in or knowledge of.
I’d like to create an online resource documenting a portfolio of physical, functional prototypes which hope to encompass a range of low end, low-cost prototypes to high end, solar cell art prototypes.
The solar cell series should be attractive enough that perhaps people might want to purchase a custom design, although the instructions for building your own should be available and simple enough that artists, designers, or anyone in general without a science background could assemble their own.
Along with the physical cells I will create animations to break down some of the more difficult key concepts behind the cells (HOMO -LUMO/ band gaps, current vs voltage & flow, cell sandwich diagram gif)
By May, I hope to have a series of interconnected cells that light an LED (hopefully at least mini LEDs), and possibly charge a phone or battery within a reasonable (~8 hr) duration of time (using ~10 cells), as well as a BOM and instructions with accompanying animations to form the curriculum.
I am also interested in developing the artistic aspects of the project, possibly incorporating the cells in a thermochromatic circuit from a previous project– (The Myth of Man) OR as a mosaiced, stained-glass structure.
I am really excited and passionate about my project and feel it has a lot of relevancy to many of the issues of today (energy, sustainability, STEAM education). My project and the side projects floating around it target many audiences and work to improve energy literacy through the medium of interactive digital content and solar cells.
The major weakness in my project is that it had been performing rather inefficiently. I think this issue can be solved with the use of more expensive materials but I also do not want to compromise the key methodological ideas behind the project, or end up with a hypocritical project. Another weakness (in my opinion, although this might not matter to others) is the artistic validity of the project. I need to push the motifs/symbology/iconography/visual vocabulary of the project so that it actually becomes less science-fair-functional and more a wondrous and magical piece of art.
Opportunities (market / niche needs)
I am uniquely qualified to make this project happen because
1) I am on the brink of acquiring my dual degree in science & art + tech
2)I have worked as a designer for two science communication based non-profits (one being in renewable energy) & as a researcher in scientific labs.
3) I got funding to buy state of the art materials and other necessary supplements
Values of my project:
Environmental ecological alternative to silicon, bioremediative
Scientific contributing research to a new field
Social STEAM education, citizen science
Cultural energy democracy, planetary health model
Artistic unexplored, unlimited domain, new medium and tool for technologists, designers, and artists
Threats (to the project)
Time!! Lack of expertise in any of the relevant fields (circuit building in particular)
I think I will need help keeping on track with my goals in the sense that there are many branching ideas I want to target with my thesis but there likely isn’t enough time to accomplish all of the supplementary targets I envisioned originally. I will need advise figuring out what to pare the project down to (identifying the most valuable core aspects of the project that MUST be present).
I need help with physical construction aspects of the project (basic physical computing stuff)
I need help ensuring that my exhibition space is installed well and near a WINDOW with an OUTLET