Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Materials Science

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Highlights

Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis

05-03-16

In a recent New York Times article Professor Harry A. Atwater, Jr. discussed the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP). He said, “The grand prize is figuring out how to make carbon dioxide be recyclable, a renewable resource. That would be a millennial advance for society.” JCAP was established in 2010 as a U.S. Department of Energy Energy Innovation Hub that aims to find new and effective ways to produce fuels using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. “You can rest assured that the energy and catalysis problems of humanity will not have been resolved five years from now,” Professor Atwater said in the interview. But there is growing interest in the work, particularly after the recently signed Paris climate treaty that calls for sharp emissions reductions to combat global warming. “We have some wind at our back that we haven’t had until recently,” he added. [New York Times article]

Tags: APhMS energy Harry Atwater JCAP

A Bright Future in Photovoltaics

04-04-16

Alumna Carissa Eisler discusses her passion for science and her research in Professor Harry Atwater’s group on photovoltaics—the conversion of solar energy into electrical energy using semiconducting materials. She was part of a group tasked with developing an ultrahigh-efficiency solar-cell module that involves designing solar collectors, optical components, and electronics. 

Tags: APhMS Harry Atwater alumni Carissa Eisler

Professor Atwater Elected to National Academy of Inventors

12-16-15

Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, has been named fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). His research focuses on photovoltaics and solar energy—he helped develop an artificial leaf as part of his work with JCAP—as well as plasmonics (oscillations of electrons on the surface of materials) and optical metamaterials (materials comprised of nanostructures). Election as an NAI fellow is an honor bestowed upon academic innovators and inventors who have "demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions and innovations that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society." [Caltech story] [NAI release]

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Professor Atwater Receives David Adler Lectureship Award

10-05-15

Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science as well as the Director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, has been awarded the 2016 David Adler Lectureship Award in the Field of Materials Physics by the American Physical Society. The Award recognizes “an outstanding contributor to the field of materials physics, who is noted for the quality of his research, review articles, and lecturing.” [Learn more]

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Highly Cited Researchers

09-11-15

The Thomson Reuters compilation of the most highly cited researchers— those in the top 1%—include EAS professors Harry Atwater, William Goddard, Babak Hassibi, Joel Tropp, Kerry Vahala, and Paul Wennberg. This compilation aims to identify researchers with exceptional impact on their respective fields. [Detailed information on the methodology]

Tags: APhMS EE honors Harry Atwater CMS ESE Paul Wennberg William Goddard Joel Tropp Kerry Vahala Babak Hassibi

Space Solar Power Initiative

04-28-15

Caltech and Northrop Grumman Corporation have signed a $17.5 million sponsored research agreement for the development of the Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI). The initiative will develop technologies in three areas: high-efficiency ultralight photovoltaics; ultralight deployable space structures; and phased array and power transmission. "The Space Solar Power Initiative brings together electrical engineers, applied physicists, and aerospace engineers in the type of profound interdisciplinary collaboration that is seamlessly enhanced at a small place like Caltech... We are working on extremely difficult problems that could eventually provide the world with new, and very cost-competitive technology for sustainable energy,” said EAS Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech story] [Northrop Grumman Release]

Tags: APhMS EE energy research highlights GALCIT Harry Atwater Ares Rosakis Ali Hajimiri Sergio Pellegrino

Four Caltech Professors Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

02-05-15

Professors Harry AtwaterMorteza GharibGuruswami Ravichandran, and Robert Grubbs have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Professor Atwater was elected for contributions to plasmonics. Professor Gharib was elected for contributions to fluid flow diagnostics and imagery, and engineering of bioinspired devices and phenomena. Professor Ravichandran was elected for contributions to mechanics of dynamic deformation, damage, and failure of engineering materials. Professor Grubbs was elected for developments in catalysts that have enabled commercial products.

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Tags: APhMS honors GALCIT MedE MCE Harry Atwater Guruswami Ravichandran Morteza Gharib National Academy of Engineering Robert Grubbs Dan Goebel Graeme Stephens Vigor Yang

New Technique Could Harvest More of the Sun's Energy

11-26-14

Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science as well as Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, and colleagues have created a new technique to harness the lost energy from solar panels. “Silicon absorbs only a certain fraction of the spectrum, and it's transparent to the rest. If I put a photovoltaic module on my roof, the silicon absorbs that portion of the spectrum, and some of that light gets converted into power. But the rest of it ends up just heating up my roof," explains Professor Atwater. Now they have found a way to absorb and make use of these infrared waves with a structure composed not of silicon, but entirely of metal. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Harry Atwater

Inside the Caltech Laboratories of Professors Atwater and Arnold

10-17-14

The creators of the Austrian TV documentary TM Wissen (TM Knowledge) go inside the laboratories of Professors Harry A. Atwater, Jr. and Frances H. Arnold to learn more about their research at Caltech.

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Professor Atwater Receives Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics

08-13-14

Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science as well as Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, has received the Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics for pioneering achievements in plasmonics and novel nanophotonic routes to ultrahigh-efficiency solar energy conversion. Professor Atwater’s scientific interests have two themes: plasmonics and optical metamaterials as well as photovoltaics and solar energy conversion. He is an early pioneer in nanophotonics and plasmonics, giving the name to the field of plasmonics in 2001. The Julius Springer Prize is awarded annually to scientists who have made an outstanding and innovative contribution to the field of applied physics. [Caltech Release] [Springer release]

Tags: APhMS honors energy Harry Atwater