When 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM Oct 11, 2013
Where 1670 Beyster Building
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The 2013 Van Vlack Lecture Series: The Exciting Past, Turbulent Present and Abundant Future of Solar Energy Conversion

Harry A. Atwater
California Institute of Technology

Photovoltaic technology has recently advanced considerably, resulting the emergence of a large global solar industry.  However the cell efficiency are currently in the 15–19% range for most of the nearly 40 GW of the photovoltaics manufacturing capacity. As impressive as these advances are, these record efficiencies and the manufactured cell efficiencies fall far short of the thermodynamic limits to photovoltaic energy conversion. There is no fundamental reason for this discrepancy, and by systematically addressing the thermodynamic efficiency losses in current photovoltaics, a new phase of photovoltaic science and engineering is at hand in which light management plays a central role.   This approach has resulted in single junction solar cells with a record efficiency of 28.8%. New 'full-spectrum' solar designs that take better advantage of the optical power across the solar spectrum, coupled with emerging materials fabrication approaches, will ultimately allow the development of solar cells with efficiencies in the 50-70% range.


The Van Vlack Lecture Series was established in honor of L. H. Van Vlack, to provide a distinguished lecture series from the outstanding leaders in the field of Materials Science and Engineering