Klaus Jäger, physicist at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, talks about the optical simulation of solar cells, the visibility of queer scientists, and how the pandemic has triggered him to rethink architecture.

Who are you and what is your profession?

I am Klaus Jäger and work as a physicist at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie. I am the deputy head of the department of solar energy optics.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on optical simulations of solar cells, which we use to study how much of the incident sunlight a solar cell can utilise. I help my colleagues in the laboratory to optimise their solar cells.

Can you describe your workplace in two words?

Computer, location-independent

How do you collect and structure your thoughts?

I don’t have a fixed process by which I collect and structure my thoughts, but work in a chaotically constructive way. When I write a text, for example, I start and slowly the text develops in my head. In this way, I always end up with an orderly, well-structured text.

Which trend will influence your work / research the most?

Renewable energies will provide most of the global energy supply in the future. Since I work in the field of solar energy, this trend affects me directly. It is exciting to be able to contribute to such an important topic for the future of humanity.

Who would you like to work with one day?

With the meteorologist and weather presenter Özden Terli.

What keeps you awake at night?

The multiple crises we are currently facing: Climate crisis, pandemic, Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine, energy crisis.

Why Berlin Science Week?

Berlin Science Week is an excellent opportunity for science communication. I participated in the event “Apocalypse! Research, Solutions and Citizen Science“, organised by the groups LGBTQ* STEM Berlin and Soapbox Science Berlin to promote the visibility of queer scientists and women in science. I’m involved because on one hand I can inform the audience about the possibilities of renewable energies and on the other hand I help to increase the visibility of openly queer scientists.

What are you currently reading and/or which newsletter(s) do you subscribe to?

Der Standard (Austria), Guardian, NY Times, generally I get news via numerous newspapers and broadcasters I follow on Twitter and their journalists.

Has the pandemic taught you anything that you would like to share? Has anything changed in your daily routine?

I have become aware of the importance of good indoor air quality and I now promote that new buildings are equipped with ventilation systems and that unventilated indoor spaces at least have air filtration systems. Also, for me, wearing masks indoors is still standard and I would like it to be common practice in the future to wear masks in public spaces during the cold season. However, it seems to me that the informality of public life and socialising has been permanently damaged. The pre-pandemic normal will not be returning.

In the future, you would like to…

…contribute even more to helping society decarbonise its energy supply.

 Tell us an unknown or fun fact about yourself.

I also studied philosophy for half a year at the University of Innsbruck in 2003.

PS: What is the most delicious thing you ate this week?

Homemade mashed potatoes and vegetables with cheese.

Klaus Jäger has been doing research on solar energy for 15 years and is currently deputy department head at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie, where he leads optical simulations for solar cells. He has been active in science communication for many years because he is convinced that it is key to communicate with the general public about science in a clear way. Klaus is co-founder of LGBTQ STEM Berlin.

He was present at the Berlin Science Week 2022 with a contribution titled “How renewable energy can tackle the climate crisis”, as part of the event “Apocalypse! Research, Solutions and Citizen Science“, which was organized jointly by LGBTQ* STEM Berlin and Soapbox Science Berlin and took place at the Berlin Science Week CAMPUS on 05 NOV 2022 from 12 to 2 pm.