Yuxuan is developing a new generation of solar cells
Yuxuan Sun graduated from the master’s programme in Nanotechnology in 2015. Since graduating, he has been working as a R&D engineer at Sol Voltaics, a start-up company in solar power.
Hi Yuxuan, what have you been working with since graduation?
After graduating from the programme of nanotechnology at KTH, I started to work in a start-up company, Sol Voltaics, as an R&D engineer to develop a new generation of solar cells. Instead of the traditional Silicon solar cell, my work focuses on the III-V nanowires-based solar cell that aims to achieve higher solar cell efficiency in both theoretical and engineering aspects. My first year in the company was mainly spent inside a cleanroom for the process work. In recent years, I worked more with characterisation work and project-oriented results analysis.
What can a regular day look like at your job?
My work content is company milestone and project schedule oriented. For example, in experiment days of the projects, I could stay in a cleanroom, running a MOCVD (metalorganic chemical vapour deposition) machine with our newly designed recipes to grow nanowires on wafers; or use characterisation tools to check experiment results, for instance, observing wire growth quality with SEM at one hundred thousand times magnification; I may also sit in front of my computer to analyse the luminescence or electric data we just measured on solar cell devices.
Besides the lab work, I often call for some meetings with project members to discuss the latest results or have a brainstorming session with engineers and scientists across departments on some topics that we want to break through. R&D engineering work is full of challenges and cooperation that we are so proud of and excited about especially when we conquer the obstacles by our knowledge and teamwork!
Why did you choose this programme at KTH?
I worked in China for a couple of years after I graduated from my bachelor’s programme of material science. Then I aimed to continue the study in a master’s program in the field of semiconductors, which is a very important branch of material science that I am very passionate about with its theories and applications. KTH or even Sweden has a very high reputation for semiconductor research and comprehensive industry cooperation. Furthermore, the program of nanotechnology provides courses related with nano-scale materials and devices, as well as semiconductor materials and applications, which are exactly the knowledge that I want to continue to study. Eventually I put this programme on top of all my applications and I was admitted.
Are there any insights you acquired during your studies that have been extra useful for you in your career?
The most memorable thing that I experienced during my study at KTH is the depth and the breadth of the knowledge covered in courses. Professors very often asked us “why” to inspire us to fundamentally understand the theories. The group discussion and seminars also provided us chances to exchange thoughts and strengthen understanding. I realized it is a similar type of spirit for engineers after I work in the industry, the attitude of “knowing why” doesn’t just help one master the work techniques but also cultivate one’s specialties along with the developing career.
What were the best aspects of your studies at KTH?
Specifically referring to the environment where I studied in the programme in Nanotechnology at the KTH Kista campus, teachers give excellent lectures and they are really kind to answer students’ questions and even those regarding the future study plan. Several presentations and forums that I joined exhibit a wide scope of the research frontier of the area while students have the chances to discuss with scientists and researchers.
Besides, we are able to attend lab courses in advanced facilities such as Electrum which is a world-class level cleanroom lab located in Kista. Personally, I also found an opportunity to be a lab helper inside Electrum for a company during my study, from where I learnt to operate machines and characterisation tools even while I was still a student, becoming a good platform for my career development.
What is your best memory from your time at KTH?
Friendships built during the study time is what I extremely cherish. We are students from different countries that studied together in Stockholm for two or three years, gradually knowing each other from courses, group discussion, projects, presentations, fika, BBQ, and parties! I still remember one summer afternoon when we all gathered at one friend’s place to watch a world cup football match with beers, cheering and laughing for the whole afternoon… Right now, we are spread all over the world, chasing different lives and various career paths. But the pictures of this study life are still fresh in my memory.
What would you want to say to a student thinking of applying for this programme?
The Programme of Nanotechnology provides extensive knowledge to learn and plenty of opportunities to put into practice, which could become challenges sometimes, either in studies or personal life, especially for a student who just starts to live in another country. The learning spirit I got here, the exciting knowledge from the courses, the potential opportunities made my master’s programme life so enjoyable and full of fun. I would say, if the content of programme of nanotechnology aligns with your learning interest, then just go for it! The life at KTH won’t make you regret it!