Andrés-Felipe Castro-Méndez came to the United States from Colombia after receiving a Fullbright Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech. His research is focused on addressing climate change and power grid disconnection using perovskite solar cells, a technology that offers the potential to decrease solar energy costs.

“Solar energy does not only have a great impact in mitigating climate change, but it also offers a transformative solution for communities currently lacking power grid access,” said Castro-Méndez. “By harnessing the sun’s energy through photovoltaic panels, these communities can generate their own electricity locally, enabling essential services, even in remote or underserved areas. This topic is particularly relevant in Colombia, my country of origin, where large communities do not have access to electricity yet.” 

Castro-Méndez’s research and published work in mitigating climate change earned a Chih Foundation Graduate Student Research Publication award. 

In his publication titled, “Vapor Phase Infiltration Improves Thermal Stability of Organic Layers in Perovskite Solar Cells,” Castro-Méndez demonstrates an innovative approach that contributes to the overall stability and longevity of perovskite solar cells. This invention is currently in the process of becoming a patent. His research has contributed to paving the way for more reliable, efficient, and commercially viable perovskite solar cells. 

“Climate change has always been a very relevant topic,” he said. “My interest to actively do something about it was triggered by my undergrad project advisor, Prof. Pablo Ortiz-Herrera. He had a research group on solar cells, and I joined his group in my 3rd year to start investigating this topic. There, I realized that alternative energies have a big potential and that they are real, not just something I would see in a sci-fi movie.”

The Chih Foundation awards graduate students whose research publication(s) reflect invention and innovation for the betterment of society. Each awardee receives $2,500 to pursue their research. 

“The impact of my research is to develop processes that could be used in industry to produce perovskite solar cells,” said Castro-Méndez. “I also am working on improving the long-term stability of perovskite solar cells, which is important to make this technology worth it. This award means that the research I’m doing is appreciated and that I’m not the only one who sees the value in it. It boosts my motivation further.” 

Castro-Méndez is one of four recipients of the 2023 Chih Foundation Graduate Student Research Publication Awards. Congratulations to the following 2023 Chih Foundation Graduate Student Research Publication award recipients: Andrés-Felipe Castro Méndez, Dongsuk Sung, Hantian Zhang, and Vanessa Oguamanam.