Another Wavelength: Liliana Ruiz Diaz

    Date Posted: 
    Thursday, February 19, 2015

    The subject of this month's Another Wavelength student feature is first-year Ph.D. student Liliana Ruiz Diaz, who comes from Tamaulipas, Mexico, and works with professor Robert A. Norwood.

    Another Wavelength banner with portrait of Liliana Ruiz Diaz

    What brought you to optics?

    I was introduced to the optical research group of my former school during my first week of college (this was also my first week as a student in the U.S.). I got involved in several projects related to optics and nanophotonics. Later on, I did my M.S. thesis on the optical characterization of 3-D photonic crystals, including experimental measurements and diffraction simulations. I decided to continue my career in the field of optical sciences because I wanted to keep focused in creating practical technology.

    Liliana Ruiz Diaz standing by entrance to Fred A. Hopf Reading RoomWho would you call your science hero?

    Undoubtedly, Sir Isaac Newton is one of my favorite scientists. I admire him due to the fact that he essentially changed the way humans see science. I could go ahead and enumerate his contributions to both physics and mathematics but I wouldn’t have enough space to finish. Nonetheless, his postulates on universal gravitation and optics are the most fascinating to me.

    Describe your research in 20 words or fewer.

    Characterization of the optical components of a hybrid solar energy conversion system.

    Describe your research in 200 words or fewer.

    In this project, funded by the Department of Energy through Sharp Laboratories of America, I am working on the characterization of the optical components of a solar energy conversion system. The system captures solar energy as electricity, using photovoltaic elements, and also as heat, using solar concentrators. The idea behind this type of hybrid system is to use the full spectrum of the sun, including visible and infrared radiation. In the lab, we are looking for ways to optimize the captured energy while reducing costs of construction. Currently, we are testing individual parts of the design and our next step is to create a real-scale prototype which will include a segment of the full 8-meter parabolic trough mirror.

    Research equipment

    Name three neat facts about you.

    1. I have a blue belt in tae kwon do.
    2. In the last two years I have run 405 miles, which is equivalent to the distance between Tucson and San Diego.
    3. I studied physics in Texas right after graduating high school in Mexico, so I essentially learned English, physics and history of United States all at the same time.