Cheaper Solar Technology, Flexible Lighting and Other Energy Breakthroughs to Be Featured at MIT Mee



Angela Stark
The Optical Society

Jason Socrates Bardi
American Institute of Physics

Cheaper Solar Technology, Flexible Lighting and Other Energy Breakthroughs to Be Featured at MIT Meeting

Researchers discuss new ways of creating and conserving energy using emerging optics and photonics technologies

CAMBRIDGE, Ma, June 24—Experts from academia and industry are gathering this week for the Optics and Photonics for Advanced Energy Technology meeting at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to discuss the future of solar energy, cutting-edge developments in solid-state lighting, and the application of new sensors and technologies used to generate and store energy. Sponsored by the Optical Society (OSA) and The MIT Center for Integrated Photonic Systems (CIPS), and co-sponsored by the MIT Energy Initiative, the meeting will be held at MIT's Wong Auditorium June 24 and 25.

Journalists are invited to attend the meeting. Complimentary registration may be obtained by contacting Angela Stark at +1 202.416.1443 or by email at The full meeting program can be accessed at:

Highlights of the meeting include:

Plenary Talks
Three plenary talks will consider the future of optics in energy, with emphasis on solar energy and solid-state lighting.

  • Lawrence Kazmerski of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will focus on the coming revolution in solar energy, emphasizing both past and recent advances in photovoltaics R&D that have pushed solar technology to a “tipping point.” (9 a.m., Wednesday, June 24)
  • Jeff Adams of Goldman Sachs will give a Wall Street perspective on the alternative energy sector. He will review the trends and outlooks for the solar and light emitting diode (LED) markets, explore investor perception, and examine access to capital within the two industries. (7:05 p.m., Wednesday, June 24)
  • John Deutch of MIT will discuss the prospects for solar energy in the future, the difficulty in predicting the growth of solar energy, and the criteria for assessing electro-optical technologies that will drive this future. (9 a.m., Thursday, June 25)

Flexible Solid-State Lighting
LEDs are being developed in plastic (organic) materials; these LEDs are likely to be cheaper than conventional devices, and can also be produced on a flexible backing. This means that very soon, organic LEDs will be printed on long rolls of flexible fabric. Brian D’Andrade of Exponent, Inc., a consulting company, will review the very latest flexible LED developments, such as roll-to-roll production, and weight-saving military applications, such as wrist-mounted computer displays. (WB4, 11:45 a.m., Wednesday, June 24)

Energy Implications of Solid-State Lighting
E. Fred Schubert and Jong Kyu Kim of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will discuss the energy, environmental and economic implications of LEDs with 20 times greater efficiency than incandescent light sources. (WB1, 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, June 24)

Black Silicon
Howard Branz of the National Renewable Energy Lab describes a type of silicon that, modified in such a way as to make it absorb rather than reflect light, can be used as a coating for solar cells, improving their efficiency. (WD3, 3:20 p.m., Wednesday, June 24)

Direct Light-to-Fuel
A new catalyst for energy conversion is presented by the MIT lab of Daniel Nocera, where researchers are attempting to use sunlight to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen gas, which can be combined later in a fuel cell to make electricity. (ThB7, 12:35 p.m., Thursday, June 25)

Mohammad Araghchini of MIT details recent progress in devices that turn heat directly into electricity, which have no moving parts, a long lifetime, and low maintenance requirements. The current challenge is that these devices also exhibit low efficiencies, which an MIT team hopes to correct by using photonic crystals to better match up heat sources with photovoltaic diodes. These crystals are materials that allow the passage of only select radiation wavelengths. (ThC7, 12:35 p.m., Thursday, June 25)

Cheaper Solar
Benny Buller and David Eaglesham of First Solar Inc. will discuss “grid parity” and the effort to reduce the price per watt of solar energy by as much as 30 percent, in order to make it competitive with traditional energy sources. (ThD1, 2:45 p.m., Thursday, June 25)

About OSA
Uniting more than 70,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit