Conferences & Events

Scialog: Solar Energy Conversion

1st Annual Conference (2010)

Solar energy researchers from around the nation participated in a closed conference October 12-15 at Biosphere 2. Though the conference was closed to the public, videos of keynote speeches are available from Nate Lewis, of the California Institute of Technology; Eric Mazur, of Harvard University; and Arun Majumdar, director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E). 

Objectives of the Conference

  • Identify and analyze bottlenecks in achieving more efficient and durable solar energy conversion and develop approaches for breakthroughs
  • Build a creative cross-disciplinary community that is more likely to produce breakthroughs
  • Form teams to write proposals for supplemental funding based on ideas that emerge at the conference
  • Engage in authentic dialog and help determine if such dialog is effective for accelerating cross-disciplinary, high-risk/potentially high-reward research

Conference Speakers

Arun Majumdar
Dr. Majumdar is the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), the country's only agency devoted to transformational energy research and development. Prior to joining ARPA-E, he was the associate laboratory director for energy and environment at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. His highly distinguished research career includes the science and engineering of energy conversion, transport, and storage ranging from molecular and nanoscale level to large energy systems. In 2005, Majumdar was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering for this pioneering work.

Nate Lewis
Dr. Lewis is the George L. Argyros Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. He has also served as the Principal Investigator of the Beckman Institute Molecular Materials Resource Center at Caltech since 1992. From 1981 to 1986, he was on the faculty at Stanford, as an assistant professor from 1981 to 1985 and as a tenured Associate Professor from 1986 to 1988. Lewis received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, and a Presidential Young Investigator. He received the Fresenius Award in 1990, the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry in 1991, the Orton Memorial Lecture award in 2003, the Princeton Environmental Award in 2003, and the Michael Faraday Medal of the Royal Society of Electrochemistry in 2008. He is currently editor-in-chief of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Energy & Environmental Science. He has published over 300 papers and has supervised approximately 60 graduate students and postdoctoral associates.

Eric Mazur
Dr. Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics & Applied Physics at Harvard University. An internationally recognized scientist and researcher, he leads a vigorous research program in optical physics and supervises one of the largest research groups in the physics department at Harvard University. After obtaining a Ph.D. in experimental physics at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in 1981, Mazur came to Harvard University in 1982. In 1984 he joined the faculty and obtained tenure six years later. Mazur has made important contributions to spectroscopy, light scattering, the interaction of ultrashort laser pulses with materials, and nanophotonics. In addition to his work in optical physics, Mazur is interested in education, science policy, outreach, and the public perception of science. He believes that better science education for all -- not just science majors -- is vital for continued scientific progress.

Thomas Moore
Dr. Moore is a professor in the department of chemistry & biochemsitry at Arizona State University and director of the ASU Center for Bioenergy & Photosynthesis. He earned his Ph.D. at Texas Tech in 1975. Moore's research interests focus on the design and assembly of bio-inspired constructs for solar energy conversion, catalysis and signal transduction. The incorporation of artificial antennas and reaction centers into model biological membranes to make solar energized membranes is one of the first steps towards assembling nanoscale devices capable of carrying out human-directed work. It is the sense of the research group that Moore is involved in, that the promise and excitement in nanoscale science and technology are predicated on paradigms taken from biology for molecular-scale motors, pumps, signal amplifiers, etc. These devices from biology are powered by proton motive force (pmf) or the thermodynamic equivalent of pmf, ATP. On the other hand, most of the devices they have come to appreciate (and expect) from the human-made world are powered by electromotive force. The membrane potential associated with energized membranes is the common denominator between the energy transducers of biology and their counterparts in the human-made world. Broadly, their research aims to explore this connection and use it to establish links between the systems and thereby determine ways to couple electronic circuits and devices to nanoscale signals and energy transducers.

Roger Angel
Dr. Angel, a 2010 Kavli Award winner, is director of the University of Arizona Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory; director of the University of Arizona Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics, and a University of Arizona Regents Professor of Astronomy & Optical Sciences. Over the past 25 years Angel, a MacArthur Award winner, has been in the forefront of a technological renaissance in telescopes and large optics. The Mirror Lab has made the optics for several telescopes, including the two largest mirrors ever (8.4m diameter) for the Large Binocular Telescope on Mt. Graham, Arizona, and is now making 8.4m mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Angel has also developed concepts for imaging and searching for primitive life on Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars. He has explored ways to cool the Earth with a space sunshade, and is now working on concentrating photovoltaic systems for solar energy. He received doctor of philosophy from Oxford University, 1967; a Master's from the California Institute of Technology, 1966; and his B.A. from St. Peter's College, Oxford University, 1963.

Linda Sapochak
Dr. Linda Sapochak is a Program Director in the Division of Materials Research (DMR) at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Her research management portfolio includes the Solid State and Materials Chemistry (SSMC) Program, the CHE-DMR-DMS Solar Program and the Emerging Frontiers in Engineering Research (EFRI)-Science in Energy and Environmental Design (SEED): Engineering Sustainable Buildings Program. She currently chairs the Energy Working Group in the Mathematical & Physical Sciences (MPS) Directorate. She obtained a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Southern California and pursued post doctoral studies at Princeton University. Prior to her position at the NSF, she was an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department at the University of Nevada Las Vegas with a research focus on new materials for organic light-emitting devices (OLEDs). She later accepted a position at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a DOE national lab in the Energy and Efficiency Division to develop organic and inorganic electronic materials for solid-state lighting applications. She joined the NSF in September 2008. 

Elaine Ulrich
Elaine Ulrich is a Senior Legislative Aide at U.S. House of Representatives, Office of Gabrielle Giffords. She was instrumental in developing the solar roadmap. Previously, Dr. Ulrich was a Senior Analyst at New West Technologies, Supporting DOE office of EERE, a Legislative Fellow (APS/AAAS Science & Technology Fellow) at U.S. House of Representatives, Science & Technology Committee and an APS Congressional Fellow at AAAS. She earned her Ph.D. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona.

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