Clean Energy Project Researchers Sharing Results and Planning for the Future

The Clean Energy Project research team at Harvard would like to thank the volunteers who supported us through two phases of the project! Currently, we are getting ready to share our findings in at least one publication and a conference. We are also weighing different options for further work with World Community Grid, which might include new types of calculations on solar cells or perhaps a study with a much larger scope.

Publishing Our Results

We have completed our screening of non-fullerene acceptor materials for new organic photovoltaic devices. The findings were quite interesting and have kept us very busy! We describe our results in a manuscript that was submitted to the high-impact journal Energy & Environmental Science.  

Steven Lopez will travel to San Francisco to present this work at the American Chemical Society national meeting in April 2017. Alán has presented the results of the Clean Energy Project in several forums and they have helped inform the screening for other materials, such as organic flow batteries, in his research group.

Considering our findings, we are working hard to continue developing what we have learned with this initial study. Our work may have led to the discovery of a new class of non-fullerene acceptors, with excellent properties including low production costs! We will reveal the chemical identities of these exciting derivatives when the paper is published.

How Scientific Papers Get Published

The process of peer-review scientific publishing is not so straightforward and can take many months, or even years in some cases.

First, the manuscript of a paper is sent to an editor, which decides whether the work will be reviewed at all. Depending on the journal, this can be just one out of every five manuscripts received. Then, three to five experts in the field independently assess the manuscripts that are accepted for review. Each reviewer must certify that the researchers’ approach and results are novel and worth publishing.

If the panel decides that a manuscript should be published, they will put forth suggestions and concerns that the manuscript’s authors respond to. Typically, after these concerns and edits have been addressed, the publishing agency will recommend that a paper be published. If it is to be published online, it usually become available in 1-2 weeks.

Future Work with World Community Grid

We have not been able to submit work units for volunteer calculation because we had been working to expand the number of molecules we will test by using a low-cost computational method to evaluate the properties of potential photovoltaic materials. With our efficient calibration scheme, this would allow us to screen 10-100 times as many candidates in the same amount of time. If this process can be fully optimized, we could begin generating these work units for volunteers. Benjamin Sanchez-Lengeling has pushed this aspect of the project forward; keep an eye on this rising star!

However, it is also possible that we may go in a different direction altogether. Another idea we are considering is to use these efficient computational methods to catalog the properties of molecules that benefit humanity and have applications beyond clean energy. Molecular Space is vast and full of useful molecules for the world.

We appreciate everyone’s patience while we take stock of the resources and personnel available in our lab, and make decisions about the best scientific use of the generous donations of computing time provided by World Community Grid volunteers.

Thanks again to everyone for your support of this project over the years,

Alán Aspuru-Guzik and Steven Lopez
On Behalf of the CEP Team