Solar spectrum characterization, impact on human health and mitigation using innovative materials
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The welfare and wealth at a specific locale, and especially in developing societies, greatly depend on improving the utilization of the solar resource and understanding of its direct and indirect effects. Assessment of the solar energy resource is essential for its exploitation (e.g. materials design for optocaloric and optoelectronic applications and materials) and protection of human health and the environment (e.g. Ultraviolet UV radiation and the ozone layer). This assessment not only includes quantification of total amount of solar energy reaching the earthâ s surface but its spectral composition as well. However, the spectral composition of the incident solar spectrum varies due to several factors such as: location, time of the day, aerosol, airborne pollutions, and clouds. Furthermore, recent studies emphasize that even surface mineral dust (e.g. carbonates as in Qatar) significantly affects the form of the spectral solar irradiance. This variation in spectral composition affects the performance of the solar energy technologies, such as photovoltaics; due to the mismatch between incident solar spectrum, the standard solar spectrum AM1.5 G (defined in ASTM GE173-03 and standard IEC 60904-3) and the materials spectral response. Nevertheless, some of these energy related materials (conjugated polymers (CPs)), due to their properties, have been extensively investigated for manufacturing solar cells, photocatalysts, energy saving windows, and even electromagnetic radiation shielding textiles. At the same time, human health is also affected by solar radiation, with both beneficial and adverse effects, especially the UV. An example of the beneficial health impact is the link between UVB irradiation of the skin and the synthesis of vitamin D in the human body. In contrast, excessive exposure to solar UV is a known environmental genotoxic agent with serious health defects. Many studies have shown the association between the excessive exposure to sunlight mainly UVB, and the development of skin cancer including cutaneous malignant melanoma and the non-melanoma skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. In the Middle East region and specifically in Qatar the prevalence of diseases such as vitamin D deficiency, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders is high. In this proposal, six undergraduate students with three mentors aim to combine experimental (field and lab) measurements, numerical modelling, and theoretical search to investigate the hypothesis that innovative materials can be used both for solar energy applications and the protection of human health, without compromising the benefit of exposure to solar radiation.........