Goodenough Materials Innovation Lecture Series: Harry Atwater

Friday, September 4, 2020
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Harry Atwater

harry atwater

New Directions for Energy from Sunlight
The recent rapid, global growth of solar photovoltaics has moved the science frontier for solar energy towards new opportunities including high efficiency tandem photovoltaics and direct synthesis of energy-dense chemical fuels from sunlight, including hydrogen and products from reduction of carbon dioxide. A current science challenge shared by photovoltaics and solar fuels researchers is design of materials for light harvesting in tandem heterostructures. Solar fuels generators are electrochemical systems with the additional science challenges of achieving high energy efficiency, catalytic selectivity, and long-term component durability. Recently design of photoelectrochemical systems with semiconductors coupled to water oxidation and reduction catalysts have enabled solar-to-hydrogen generation with >19% efficiency.  Solar-driven reduction of carbon dioxide to valuable products such as liquid fuels presents a particular challenge in the selective generation of useful multi-carbon products, spurring new directions for selective and durable photocatalytic materials for artificial photosynthesis.   


About Dr. Atwater
Harry Atwater is the Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology. Currently he is the Director for the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA), a Department of Energy Hub program for solar fuels.  Atwater’s scientific effort focuses on nanophotonic light-matter interactions and solar energy conversion.  His current research in solar energy centers on high efficiency photovoltaics and photoelectrochemical processes for generation of solar fuels, and his research has resulted in world records for solar photovoltaic conversion and photoelectrochemical water splitting. His work also spans fundamental nanophotonic phenomena, in plasmonics and 2D materials, and also applications including active metasurfaces and optical propulsion. 


From 2014-2020, Atwater served as Director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), the DOE Energy Innovation Hub for solar fuels.   He is also founder of 5 early-stage companies, including Alta Devices, which set world records for photovoltaic cell and module efficiency. Atwater was an early pioneer in nanophotonics and plasmonics; he gave the name to the field of plasmonics in 2001.  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.