Harry Atwater, Caltech's Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, and director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, has been named a recipient of this year's Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics.
The annual prize, awarded by the editors in chief of the research journals Applied Physics A—Materials Science & Processing and Applied Physics B—Lasers and Optics, recognizes researchers who have made "an outstanding and innovative contribution" to the field of applied physics.
Atwater, who is also director of the Department of Energy's Energy Frontier Research Center on Light-Material Interactions in Energy Conversion at Caltech, and the editor in chief of the journal ACS Photonics, shares the award with Albert Polman of AMOLF, a research laboratory of the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) in the Netherlands.
The two longtime collaborators were cited for their key contributions to the research area of nanophotonics, the science of light at the nanoscale, and, in particular, their development of metallic nanostructures that help to control light at these vanishingly small scales. "Atwater and Polman have demonstrated how light can be more efficiently absorbed and trapped in solar cells by integrating nanostructures in the solar cell," according to the award announcement. "This enables the fabrication of ultrathin solar cells that can be made at reduced costs, as well as new solar cell architectures with increased efficiency."
The award, which comes with a cash prize of $5,000, will be presented on September 1 at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam during the Julius Springer Forum on Applied Physics 2014.
Written by Kathy Svitil