In the bustling environment of Oxford PV, a company at the forefront of emerging solar technology, Dr Boer Tan, a former member of Exciton Science, stands out through her dedication to creating positive change.
Driven by a passion for improving renewable energy, Boer reflects on her journey from a sunny hometown in China to the cutting-edge company spun out from the University of Oxford, via Australia’s Monash University.
"Decarbonization and reducing fossil fuel usage is an important trend for the next decade,” Boer said.
Her journey began at Monash as an undergraduate research intern under the supervision of Professor Udo Bach, sparking a career that would eventually lead her to the UK, with an organisation pioneering the commercialisation of new perovskite-based photovoltaics.
But Boer’s connection to renewable energy is a personal one, and started before she entered university.
"My hometown in China enjoys sunshine most of the year, with many silicon solar panels generating electricity. It made me interested in getting involved in this industry," she said.
Today, as an engineer at Oxford PV, Boer is in the privileged and important role of making a genuine contribution to reducing carbon emissions.
"I was quite excited when I was offered the position,” she said.
“The proximity to the university means working with talented engineers and technicians with a strong research background – it’s a great opportunity to learn."
Boer’s time with Exciton Science, under the guidance of Udo, was a formative experience, professionally and personally: "It was a great pleasure. I made lifelong friends and hope to keep them despite being on the other side of the world.
“Udo always supported me, and the Centre supported any kind of collaboration, internal and external. Udo tried to facilitate a collaboration whenever he could, and he didn’t place constraints on what equipment we used or what kind of institutions that we wanted to join to conduct research.”
Positions at cutting-edge organisations like Oxford PV are highly competitive, and Boer attributed her success to the skills gained during her PhD and postdoc, emphasising the Centre's role in her development.
"I spent a lot of my time during my PhD and postdoc fabricating and characterising perovskite solar cells. I am grateful that the knowledge and insights gained during that time continue to benefit me professionally,” she said.
“The Centre facilitated collaborations and increased my understanding of different techniques. The Centre has provided an excellent platform, fostering strong connections with exceptional researchers from Australia and around the world.
“Through these connections, I have acquired valuable knowledge and have been profoundly influenced by their dedicated and meticulous work ethic. These experiences will remain a lifelong treasure for me."
Boer (second from right) is pictured in a laboratory at the University of Oxford.
Reflecting on the differences between academic research and her current role, Boer said: "Working in research allows a lot of freedom to explore. At Oxford PV, we have specific research areas with clear goals, which can actually make it easier to make progress and accomplish those goals."
Boer’s story is not just one of personal achievement but also a testament to the power of nurturing environments like Exciton Science. Her journey from an undergraduate to a leading solar technology company is an inspiration for those aspiring to make a difference in the world of renewable energy.