In an event showcasing the importance of undergraduate research and the work of Utah’s top research universities once a year students are chosen to present their research to Utah state legislature. ECE’s Olivia Thu Lam is presenting her work as one of 25 students from the University of Utah this February.

When ECE assistant professor Heayoung Yoon gave Lam and graduate student Kaden Powell the topic of solar cells the two got right to work.

Meeting once a week over Zoom Lam shared her project designs and Powell prints and assembles the structure using a 3D printer in Yoon’s lab.

“It’s [has] been really cool to see how quickly [Lam] can make a design and then we can test it with the 3D printer in our lab,” Powell said.

In order to get the most accurate measurements possible Lam’s designs had to completely block out all other light including light seeping through windows into the hallway so only the solar simulator would be measured.

This work with thin-film solar cells is making way for thinner and lighter material with the conversion capabilities of silicon cells.

The light thin-film solar cells are ideal for space applications and so thin that they can even be flexible. Lam’s designs measure the properties of various samples helping the team gain a better understanding of the materials. With a greater understanding, the two hope to continue to improve the material.

Being chosen for Research on Capitol Hill just shows how important this research is.

“I’m really excited for Olivia,” Powell said. “She’s doing great work, despite only joining the group relatively recently. The selection of her abstract is recognition of that hard work.”

According to Powell Olivia’s great initiative to write the abstract and design the project shows how far being excited about and willing to do the work will take you.

“Without Kaden’s big support and the dedication of Olivia,” Yoon said, “this result wouldn’t have happened.”