OSA Incubator on the Fundamental Limits of Optical Energy Conversion


OSA Incubator on the Fundamental Limits of Optical Energy Conversion

12-14 November 2014
OSA Headquarters • 2010 Massachusetts Ave. NW • Washington, DC, USA


Svetlana V. Boriskina, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
Jurgen Michel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;  Alexander Kildishev, Purdue University;
Vivian Ferry, University of Minnesota; Jonathan Tong, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Listen to the presentations

This Incubator brought together experts from various fields including classical and quantum photonics, plasmonics, metamaterials, colloidal chemistry, nano-mechanics as well as material, chemical, and thermal engineering to explore the fundamental limits of optical energy conversion. The Incubator focused on recent advances in the field of renewable energy and sustainability that are directly or indirectly enabled by progress in optical science and engineering research.

Utilizing a combination of invited presentations and facilitated group discussions attendees explored thermodynamic limits of optical energy conversion platforms and searched for new platforms that overcome those limits. Featured topics included:

  1. Heat is the new light: expansion of optical system and material design to cover visible and infrared bands with the aims to harvest waste heat and light, to reduce the thermal emission losses of solar harvesting platforms, and to achieve non-contact cooling of optical and electronic circuitry.
  2. Photons, meet electrons and phonons: enhancement of the efficiency of the energy harvesting and conversion devices via synergistic optical, electronic and thermal design as well as cross-fertilization of the approaches to bandstructure and energy transport engineering in optical, electronic, and thermal systems.
  3. Think small: development of nanoscale devices and nanostructured materials that make use of size quantization effects to manipulate photon and electron density of states and to increase light trapping and energy conversion efficiencies.
  4. Mix and match: exploration of hybrid optics-enabled approaches to energy harvesting and conversion such as solar thermophotovoltaics, solar thermoelectrics, PV + solar-thermal, incorporation thermal storage units into solar energy conversion platforms.
  5. Bend the curve: assessment of the potential of new light harvesting and conversion technologies to bend the cost and/or efficiency curves and break through the trajectory of the traditional technologies.

Keynote Speakers

Gang Chen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Shanhui Fan, Stanford University, USA
Eli Yablonovitch, University of California, Berkeley, USA


Ashwin AtreStanford University, USA
Koray AydinNorthwestern University, USA
Matthew BeardNREL, USA
Peter BermelPurdue University, USA
David Bierman, MIT, USA
Howard Branz, ARPA-E, USA
Steve ByrnesHarvard University, USA
Wallace ChoyThe University of Hong Kong, China
Martin CryanBristol University, U.K.            
Keivan EsfarjaniRutgers University, USA
Benjamin FrantaHarvard University, USA
Sasha GovorovUniversity of Ohio, USA
Urcan Guler, Purdue University, USA
Matthew Klug, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Michael HaneyARPA-E, USA
Krzysztof KempaBoston College, USA
Minh Le, DOE SunShot, USA
Minjoo Larry LeeYale University, USA
Antti MakinenNavy Research Laboratory, USA
Miguel A. ModestinoEPFL, Switzerland
Jeremy MundayUniversity of Maryland, USA
Michelle PovinelliUniversity of Southern California, USA
Avi NivBen-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Ralph NuzzoUniversity of Illinois, USA
Mordechai Rothschild, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, USA
Carmel RotschildTechnion, Israel
Vladimir Shalaev, Purdue University, USA
David ShrekenhamerJohns Hopkins University, USA 
Marin SoljacicMIT, USA
Volker SorgerGeorge Washington University, USA
Myles SteinerNREL, USA
Maria Strojnik, Centro de Investigaciones en Optica AC, Mexico
Mohammad Tahersima, George Washington University, USA
Lenny TinkerDOE SunShot, USA
Susanna ThonJohns Hopkins University, USA
Jao VandeLagemaatNREL, USA
David WoolfPhysical Sciences, Inc., USA
Zongfu Yu, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
Alvin G. YewNASA, USA