Page 48 - April 2021
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        Leap For Dye-sensitized Solar Cells
The winner of CSIR-Young Scientist Award in Chemical Sciences,
Dr Suraj Soman works
on technology to harness indoor/ artificial/
diffused lights
n Science India Bureau
Dr Suraj Soman, winner of the CSIR-Young Scientist Award in Chemical Sciences, is a Sci- entist at CSIR-National Institute for In- terdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), Thiruvananthapuram.
A science enthusiast from young age, Dr Soman won many state and na- tional science fair awards and Olympi- ads during his school days. An alumnus and gold medalist from the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, he secured first rank in his Bachelors and Masters in Chemistry. He obtained his PhD from Dublin City University, Ireland, followed by post-doctoral ten- ure at Michigan State University, USA. Besides the 2020 CSIR Young Scientist Award, he has won many other presti- gious awards such as the INSA (Indian National Science Academy) Young Sci- entist Award (2020), Kerala State Youth Icon Award (2020), R L Thakur Young Scientist Award (2019), Best Emerging Young Scientist Award (2019), Kerala State Young Scientist Award (2018), BRICS Young Scientist Award (2017), International Strategic Cooperation Award (2015), DST-Inspire Faculty Award (2014), Indira Gandhi National Fellowship (2006) and KVPY Fellow- ship (2004) to name a few.
Dr Soman’s interdisciplinary re- search group at NIIST focuses on es- tablishing structure-function relation- ships by understanding and advancing the fundamental knowledge of Chem- istry, Physics, Material Science and Engineering through multidisciplinary
Indigenous DSSC Module Fabrication Facility at CSIR-NIIST
 and collaborative
partnerships. The
idea is to lead to
performance en-
hancements in
disruptive molec-
ular photovoltaic
technologies. His
prime research
focus is on Dye-
sensitized Solar Cells (DSSCs), which is the most efficient technology for har- nessing indoor/artificial/diffused lights and the best available technology for semi-transparent coloured facades for Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) applications.
He got involved in the design and development of new earth-abundant low-cost electrolytes and materials for DSSC, and in systematic variations of these components and interrogating the performance limiting parameters with the help of custom developed electrical and optical perturbation techniques. The lessons learnt from this exercise were used to build design rules for next- generation DSSCs capable of overcom- ing kinetic and energetic constraints of current-generation photovoltaics.
Besides, he accomplished DSSC module development through industry- academia collaborations to exploit this technology for future self-powered IoTs and BIPV applications. He played the
lead role in setting up India’s first truly indigenous module fabrication line for dye-sensitized solar modules partnering with industry, which was commissioned at CSIR-NIIST in October 2018.
The established facility is capable of handling the manufacturing of up to 30×30 cm2 DSSC modules. The technology has already been licensed to Elixir Technologies, Bangalore, for further commercialisation. Dr Soman has played a vital role in this develop- ment for improving power conversion efficiencies of indoor light harvesting solar cells by employing earth abundant materials as well as by optimising their optical and electrical characteristics, for which now he has been bestowed with the prestigious CSIR & INSA (Indian National Science Academy) Young Sci- entist award.
Dr Soman’s goal is to capture and recycle all forms of light, converting ev- eryday objects to independent power sources. Fascinated and obsessed with the molecular photovoltaic devices, Dr Soman’s team has been at it for the past seven years. The idea is to transform India’s quest for cost-effective energy production technologies to a whole new level. It’s an on-going exercise, and he is confident that his team will be able to meet the expectations and trust laid on them by CSIR and the nation.
Dr Soman is married to Anila, a homemaker. The couple has two kids, Aadith Suraj and Janaki Suraj.
Dr Suraj Soman

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