Rawlison Zhang, a junior in chemical and biological engineering, won the gold poster award at this year's Princeton Research Day. The award honors Zhang's work programming smart windows in professor Lynn Loo's Organic and Polymer Electronics Laboratory.
Buildings account for more than 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the team. A considerable amount of the energy required to heat and cool buildings is wasted due to poorly insulated windows. By retrofitting existing windows with transparent solar cells that can change tint on command, researchers hope to block more heat in warm weather and retain more heat in cold weather, improving overall efficiency and reducing energy use.
Zhang worked with chemistry student Matthew Marquardt, also a junior, to prototype a technology that could automate these self-powered windows. Working closely with senior members of the lab, the undergraduate team developed hardware and software required for the cells to respond to changing environmental conditions. Their efforts could directly benefit Princeton's Sustainability Action Plan, which seeks to reduce the campus's greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by the year 2046.
A gold poster award was also given to Sarah Paramore, a graduate student in molecular biology, who is advised by Celeste Neslon, professor of chemical and biological engineering.
Princeton Research Day was held on May 9, 2019. A panel of judges, comprised of undergraduates, alumni, faculty and staff, chose the winning presentations.