First of all, I would like to thank HOF for providing me this amazing opportunity to pursue a research internship in Japan. I will write this report in two parts. In the first part, I will talk about my project work and in the second, I will discuss my overall experience in Japan.
I worked under the esteemed guidance of Professor Koichi Yamashita in the Department of Chemical System Engineering at the University of Tokyo on a novel topic: “Theoretical Design of Organic Solar Cells”. I started with a meticulous literature review to understand the basic concepts since this research area (organic solar cells) was relatively new for me. This was quite challenging but immensely rewarding and I really enjoyed learning about this ingenious field. After I had acquired the required theoretical understanding, I proceeded to make my computer program for predicting the performance of organic solar cells. The major challenge was that the governing mathematical equations were extremely complicated and hence solving them numerically was tedious and time consuming. Also, some of the parameters were not clearly specified in the literature. However, with the engineering insights that I have developed during my undergraduate study at IIT Delhi and the expert guidance of Professor Yamashita, I was able to come up with innovative solutions to address these challenges. After persistent hard work for several days, I was successful in writing my program in MATLAB to achieve the desired objectives. MATLAB is a high level computer programming language and interactive environment for numerical computation, visualization and programming. I made certain assumptions and approximations to simplify the analysis but carefully ensured that the accuracy of the results would not get affected significantly. I incorporated the effect of external electric field in the theoretical model for predicting the performance of organic solar cells. This led to a much better agreement with the experimental data compared to conventional models. I calculated the power conversion efficiency and fill factor of organic solar cells using this model and then studied the effect of different parameters on the power conversion efficiency such as dielectric constant, donor band gap, ionization potential of the donor material etc. I also studied the relationship between dielectric constant and short circuit current. I regularly discussed different aspects of this interesting work with Professor Yamashita and other senior lab members. These interactions provided me a lot of valuable information not only about this project but also about carrying out research in general. We had a lab seminar every week which was attended by all lab members. I loved listening to the presentations given by different students about their research projects. We also had a group meeting every week in which only students working in the field of organic solar cells participated. The aim of this meeting was to collectively find solutions to the problems which each student was facing in his/her project. I gave an oral presentation in the end in front of the entire lab group where I talked about myself, my university (IIT Delhi), technical details of my work, my experience working on this project etc. All the lab members were very impressed with my presentation and lauded me for my sincerity and scientific temperament. We had an interactive question and answer session at the end of the presentation where many of my lab friends asked some very interesting questions and gave me extremely valuable suggestions. We also took some photographs to capture those lovely moments. I felt that the University of Tokyo offered me immense learning opportunities owing to its extraordinary research ecosystem, dedicated faculty members, excellent experimental and computational facilities, open and congenial atmosphere and highly motivated students and researchers from across the globe.
I was left spellbound by the mesmerizing natural beauty of Japan. Tokyo is an eclectic blend of modernity and traditionalism and has a lot to offer for people of all age groups. I was amazed to see technological marvels like Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Shinjuku Skyscraper District, Tokyo Dome, Rainbow Bridge etc. I had a fabulous and memorable experience in Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea. The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) exposed me to the latest developments in science and technology. I was particularly fascinated to see the Humanoid Robot ASIMO (ASIMO currently works as a Science Communicator of Miraikan). I was touched to see the hospitality of the Japanese people and was truly impressed by their honesty and sincerity. Since I didn’t get the opportunity to learn Japanese, I faced some problems, especially when I went for sightseeing and shopping. Many of the instructions are written only in Japanese and many people in Japan find it a bit difficult to speak and understand English. I am really grateful to my lab friends who helped me immensely in this regard by accompanying me to several places and providing me important information in English. They took me for sightseeing to various famous places like Ueno Zoo, Tokyo National Museum, Odaiba, National Museum of Nature and Science etc. We had a wonderful time together and this helped me foster a better understanding of Japanese culture, traditions, beliefs etc. They also enjoyed knowing more about the Indian culture, society, festivals, education system etc. The public transportation system initially seemed a bit confusing to me but once I became acquainted with it, I found it extremely efficient, convenient and cost effective. I attended different seminars and lectures organized by the University of Tokyo which helped me explore several new frontiers. I interacted with a lot of students belonging to diverse backgrounds. These discussions were a great way to learn about different countries, languages, cultures, research areas etc. I participated in an essay writing competition organized by the University of Tokyo Indian Students’ Association (UTISA). The topic for the essay was extremely germane: “Shift in the Indian Education Mindset from the West to the East”. I won the Best Article Award in this competition and it was a privilege for me to receive this award from the hands of Ms. Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, Ambassador of India to Japan, at the UTISA Symposium-2014 held in the Embassy of India, Tokyo.
I truly enjoyed my stay in Japan, both academically and culturally and will cherish this throughout my life.