Designing photovoltaic devices, an interview with Pedro Anacleto

November 30, 2021

Pedro Anacleto is a Research Engineer at the Laboratory of Nanostructured Solar Cells (LaNaSC), where he focuses his research on the design and the micro and nanofabrication of photovoltaic devices, particularly to applications in thin-film solar cells, micro-concentrators, and solar window devices.

He is also responsible for the Pulsed Hybrid Reactive Magnetron Sputtering (PHRMS) tool at INL to deposit chalcogenide materials at low temperatures. At the educational level, he supervises, co-supervises, and trains students at LaNaSC.

Can you tell us a bit about your path and your main area of work?

I did a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering. During that time, I worked on micro and nanofabrication and finally figured out “what I want to when I grow up.” Then an opportunity came to work at INL on micro and nanofabrication, though in the field of photovoltaics. I completely changed my area of expertise, but I like a good challenge. So now, I use micro and nanofabrication techniques to fabricate novel solar devices. It is a lot of fun!

What is the importance of your work, your research?

Renewable energy is one of the most relevant scientific topics out there, so I like to think that what I do is meaningful. My research focuses on photovoltaic technologies that enable cleaner and cheaper energy for all, thus fighting climate change.

If you weren’t a Researcher, what would you be doing?

If I weren’t a researcher, I would still have some scientific job. I believe science is a fantastic tool that will help you grow, make better decisions, and keep you motivated to learn new things throughout your life. I’ve been more aware of this fact in recent years and am glad that I choose to follow the science route. You will not regret it if you do too!

Any advice for students considering a career in science?

After identifying what kind of research you would like to do, see if it is possible to do it in Portugal. Then, look for jobs, positions, plan your future carefully. Remember, Portugal is a small country. Even in the USA, where science jobs are plenty, people frequently find their first job 4000 km away from home. So think global!

Briefly, what excites you about your next projects?

The prospect of developing a meaningful technology with real-life applications excites me. Currently, I’m very excited about zero-energy buildings. These buildings combine energy efficiency and renewable energy generation to consume only as much energy as can be produced onsite through renewable resources over a specified time period. Hence, when I’m running around town, I always look at buildings and imagine how they will look like in the future. Many existing buildings would have to be retrofitted to become more energy-efficient, so I’m always thinking of technology we could develop to reach that goal.

Pedro Anacleto recently participated in the European Researcher’s Night and he showed our younger audiences how solar energy positively affects our days, our lives, and our research. You can now watch it!