OSC Colloquium: Harry Atwater

    Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
    Virtual Via Zoom

    Open to campus and public.

    Recording is not available.


    Speaker: Harry Atwater 

    Topic: Three Grand Challenges for Nanophotonics

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    Research in nanophotonics, the science of light-matter interactions below the optical wavelength scale, is yielding advances that are opening paths for conceptually new “grand challenge” photonic technologies that have not previously been achievable.  I will discuss three examples. A first grand challenge is generation of chemical fuels from sunlight, for which nanophotonic structures have enabled advances in photoelectrochemical water splitting and carbon dioxide reduction.  The second challenge is realization of comprehensively tunable active metasurfaces, which are nanoantenna arrays that enable dynamic, active control of the constitutive properties of light – amplitude, phase, wavevector and polarization – opening new applications such as phased-array optical beam steering, visible light modulation for communication and thermal radiation management.  A final grand challenge for nanophotonics is to harness laser light for optical propulsion, yielding optically driven spacecraft capable of reaching beyond our solar system.  I will discuss our work in the Breakthough Starshot initiative, which is aimed at identifying the science advances needed for light-driven spacecraft, with the audacious goal to reach nearby stars within a human lifetime.


    Speaker Bio(s): 

    Harry Atwater is the Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology.  Atwater’s scientific effort focuses on nanophotonic light-matter interactions and solar energy conversion.  His work spans fundamental nanophotonic phenomena, in plasmonics and 2D materials, and also applications including active metasurfaces and optical propulsion.  His current research in solar energy centers on high efficiency photovoltaics and photoelectrochemical processes for generation of solar fuels.


    Atwater was an early pioneer in nanophotonics and plasmonics; he gave the name to the field of plasmonics in 2001.  Currently Atwater is the Director for the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA), a Department of Energy Hub program for solar fuels, and from 2014-2020, Atwater served as Director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP).   He is also founder of 5 early-stage companies, including Alta Devices, which set world records for photovoltaic cell and module efficiency. Atwater is a Member of US National Academy of Engineering, and a Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher.  He is also a Fellow of the SPIE as well as APS, MRS, and the National Academy of Inventors. He is also the founding Editor in Chief of the journal ACS Photonics, and Chair of the LightSail Committee for the Breakthrough Starshot program.


    Colloquium will start at 3:30pm, following will be a meet and greet with Harry Atwater.