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Abderrahime SEKKAT, The great adventure!

Merci d'avoir accepté l'interview

Please briefly describe your thesis subject.

The main objective of my thesis was to develop functional thin films, namely p-type copper oxide (Cu2O) and other metal oxides (MgO, TiO2, and others), using an innovative system and scalable approach known as AP-SALD (Atmospheric Pressure Spatial Atomic Layer Deposition). As an example of the versatility of the technique, I was able to control of copper oxidation state to obtain the three main phases (Cu, Cu2O and CuO) at low temperature (160 °C-260 °C). I also focused on the integration of the developed materials as components into optoelectronic devices (all-oxide semi-transparent solar harvester and silicon heterojunction solar cells). In parallel, I performed an extensive numerical simulation using SCAPS software to optimize the performance of the devices. This allows to replace critical materials while obtaining similar or better performances.

Could you please describe your background?

I grew up in Fez, Morocco, where I obtained my bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at the Faculty of Science and Technology. I then went on to the AUI University of Ifrane for a master's degree on sustainable energy management in which I participated in a national project (PROPRE.MA) financed by IRESEN and dealing with the comparative study of solar cells (mono-, poly- and a-Si). During my second year of master I was selected by the European project MEDSOL to perform my internship at the University of Strasbourg at the laboratory ICUBE in which I worked on the development of very thin and high efficiency silicon solar cells through experimental and simulation work under the supervision of Dr. Abdelilah Slaoui and in collaboration with SINTEF in Oslo. Right after, I started a PhD between LMGP/IMEP-LAHC/SIMAP laboratories at UGA under the supervision of Dr. David Muñoz-Rojas, Prof. Anne Kaminski-Cachopo, and Dr. Guy Chichignoud which I defended at the end of 2021. Immediately after, I started a postdoctoral position at LMGP (Physical and Materials Engineering Laboratory) working on several projects related to energy applications. An example is a project coordinated by Prof. Daniel Bellet in which I am working on the development of nanocomposites based on coated AgNWs for Smart-windows applications. During my work, I was happy to obtain the academic award from UGA and the 2022 thesis award from the Solid State Chemistry Division of the French Chemical Society.

Why did you choose to do a thesis?

As far as I am concerned, I did a PhD by vocation because I was really motivated and passionate about research in photovoltaic technologies and materials science. I think there is a lot of room for research in new renewable technologies, as climate change is becoming more and more radical nowadays and there is a need for new applications. It's actually a unique experience in which I've learned a lot and developed several skills. Don't get me wrong, a PhD is far from an easy task, with its ups and downs, sometimes frustrating with failed experiences, but growth comes with challenges. Through this experience and the exchanges with collaborators from different backgrounds, I have acquired several tools to better understand and gain knowledge on different aspects. Looking back on the three years of my PhD, I am very grateful to have had this experience and to have met so many great people and groups during my work.

Any advice for a student who wants to do a thesis?

I would say that resilience and passion are two main components if a student would like to start a Ph.D. The choice of the subject, the location and the motivation (with a big M) are for me one of the key parameters to keep in mind when choosing a thesis. Moreover, I think that being surrounded by great and positive team and people is key as you will pushed and valorized to produce the best version of yourself.

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