Thijs Smolders


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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a PhD student in the group of Alison Walker, in which I am looking at an interesting new class of materials for solar cell applications. This new and interesting class of materials is known as perovskites. Since its discovery as a photovoltaic material in 2012, the efficiency of this class of materials has seen an unprecendented rise up to a certified efficiency of over 23% today. This incredible development can for a large part be attributed to the relativele ease with which these materials form very efficient solar cells! For the other part of the story we have to acknowledge the massive amount of experimental effort that has led to the remarkably high record efficiencies we see today.

Because of the rapid development of perovskite solar cells, deeper understanding of the important physical processes happening in these interesting materials is lagging behind experimental knowledge. It is our role to bridge this gap and fill in the last few pieces of the puzzle that could bring this technology to the market. Issues that need to be addressed is the relatively low stability of perovskites with respect to heat, moisture and (not unimportant!) light.

In this project we hope to tackle several of these issues by using a multiscale model, being able to look at the physical processes in these materials at different time- and length-scales and look at how we can make these wonder materials even better!

Other responsibilities

My PhD program is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks. These ITNs aim to "train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early-stage researchers, able to face current and future challenges and to convert knowledge and ideas into products and services for economic and social benefit." Hence, I am very interested in tackling sustainability issues on a wide scale but am also very much open to translating the knowledge we have in the scientific community and to pass it onto the general audience. The need for sustainable alternatives to many of our products, not the least our energy consumption, is very high and only together can we make a true difference. For more information, please visit my personal webpage or the Maestro webpage.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy


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