Harry Atwater is currently the Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests center around two interwoven research themes: photovoltaics and solar energy; and plasmonics and optical metamaterials. Atwater and his group have been active in photovoltaics research for more than 20 years. He has authored or co-authored over 200 publications, and his group’s developments in the solar and plasmonics field have been featured in Scientific American and in research papers in Science, Nature Materials, Nature Photonics and Advanced Materials. Atwater received his B.S. (1981), M.S. (1983), and Ph.D. (1987) in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He currently serves as the Director of the DOE Energy Frontier Research Center on Light-Matter Interactions in Solar Energy Conversion and was recently named Director of the Resnick Institute for Science, Energy and Sustainability, Caltech’s largest endowed research program focused on energy. Atwater is founder and chief technical advisor for Alta Devices. He has also served an editorial board member for Surface Review and Letters. Professor Atwater has consulted extensively for industry and government, and has actively served the materials community in various capacities, including Material Research Society Meeting Chair (1997), Materials Research Society President (2000), AVS Electronic Materials and Processing Division Chair (1999), and Board of Trustees of the Gordon Research Conferences. In 2008, he served as Chair for the Gordon Research Conference on Plasmonics. Atwater has been honored by awards including the MRS Kavli Lecturer in Nanoscience in 2010; Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award, 2010; Joop Los Fellowship from the Dutch Society for Fundamental Research on Matter in 2005, A.T. & T. Foundation Award, 1990; NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1989; IBM Faculty Development Award, 1989-1990; Member, Bohmische Physical Society, 1990; IBM Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1987.
Eli Yablonovitch is the Director of the NSF Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S), a multi-University Center based at Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. degree in Applied Physics from Harvard University in 1972. He worked for two years at Bell Telephone Laboratories, and then became a professor of Applied Physics at Harvard. In 1979 he joined Exxon to do research on photovoltaic solar energy. Then in 1984, he joined Bell Communications Research, where he was a Distinguished Member of Staff, and also Director of Solid-State Physics Research. In 1992 he joined the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was the Northrop-Grumman Chair Professor of Electrical Engineering. Then in 2007 he became Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley, where he holds the James & Katherine Lau Chair in Engineering.
Prof. Yablonovitch is a Fellow of the IEEE, the Optical Society of America and the American Physical Society. He is a Life Member of Eta Kappa Nu, and elected a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He has been awarded the Adolf Lomb Medal, the W. Streifer Scientific Achievement Award, the R.W. Wood Prize, the Julius Springer Prize, the IET Mountbatten Medal and the IEEE Photonics Award. He also has an honorary Ph.D. from the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, and from the Hong Kong Univ. of Science & Technology.
In his photovoltaic research, Yablonovitch introduced the 4n2 light-trapping factor that is in worldwide use for almost all commercial solar panels. This factor increased the theoretical limits and practical efficiency of solar cells. 4n2 is based on statistical mechanics, and is sometimes called the “Yablonovitch Limit”. Yablonovitch introduced the idea that strained semiconductor lasers could have superior performance due to reduced valence band (hole) effective mass. Today, almost all semiconductor lasers use this concept, including telecommunications lasers, DVD players, and red laser pointers. Yablonovitch is regarded as a Father of the Photonic BandGap concept, and he coined the term "Photonic Crystal". The geometrical structure of the first experimentally realized Photonic bandgap, is sometimes called “Yablonovite”.