Dr. Harry Atwater is the Director of JCAP, and the Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology.  As a Director, Dr. Atwater is the lead Principal Investigator responsible for all aspects of the program’s management and research.

Dr. Atwater received his S.B. (1981), S.M. (1983), and Ph.D. (1987) in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He served as Directors of the DOE Energy Frontier Research Center on Light-Material Interactions in Solar Energy Conversion (http://lmi.caltech.edu/) and of the Resnick Sustainability Institute (http://resnick.caltech.edu/), Caltech’s largest endowed research program focused on energy.  He is founder and chief technical advisor for two venture-backed photovoltaic companies:  Caelux Solar Energy in Pasadena, California, and Alta Devices in Santa Clara, California, which is developing a transformational high efficiency/low cost photovoltaics technology.  Dr. Atwater is also the Editor-in-Chief for ACS Photonics.

Dr. Atwater is an MRS Fellow and has been honored by awards, including election to the National Academy of Engineering in 2015; Fellowship from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013; the ENI Award in Renewable and Nonconventional Energy in 2012; Green Photonics Award in Renewable Energy Generation, SPIE 2012; Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award, 2010; MRS Kavli Lecturer in Nanoscience in 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; and an IBM Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1987.

Dr. Atwater's 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, focusing on fundamental and applied research in synthesis, properties and processing of electronic materials for use in the electronic and optoelectronic devices and circuits of the 21st century.  Electronic materials research is interdisciplinary, involving issues spanning applied physics, physics, materials science, and electrical and chemical engineering.  His group includes graduate students, research fellows, and undergraduates from each of these departments.  They also maintain comprehensive experimental facilities for growth and analysis.  Recently they have created new photovoltaic devices, including silicon wire array solar cells, and transferred-layer designs for III-V semiconductor and multijunction cells.  They are making exciting advances in plasmonic light absorber structures for III-V compound and silicon thin films.  As silicon integrated circuit technology is the dominant large-scale electronics technology, a significant effort in their group is aimed at exploring new silicon-compatible materials and structures which may enable new functions and performance to be readily combined in the future with the powerful integrated circuit technology of today.  These include study of the growth and optical/electronic properties of new epitaxial group-IV compound semiconductors and nanocrystalline group-IV structures for potential heterojunction and optoelectronic device applications.  Advanced epitaxial growth processes are enabled by new in situ diagnostics using reflection electron energy loss spectroscopy.  Polycrystalline semiconductors thin films, having potentially enormous applications in thin-film solar cells and display devices, are another important research area.  Dr. Atwater is an early pioneer in surface plasmon photonics; he gave the name to the field of plasmonics in 2001.  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 MaterialsNature Photonics, and Advanced Materials.


Recent Publications

Chen, S. Y., Narang, P., Atwater, H. A. & Wang, L. W. Phase Stability and Defect Physics of a Ternary ZnSnN2 Semiconductor: First Principles Insights. Advanced Materials 26, 311-315, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201302727 (2014).

Fountaine, K. T. & Atwater, H. A. Mesoscale modeling of photoelectrochemical devices: light absorption and carrier collection in monolithic, tandem, Si vertical bar WO3 microwires. Optics Express 22, A1453-A1461, DOI: 10.1364/oe.22.0a1453 (2014).

Fountaine, K. T., Kendall, C. G. & Atwater, H. A. Near-unity broadband absorption designs for semiconducting nanowire arrays via localized radial mode excitation. Optics Express 22, A930-A940,DOI: 10.1364/oe.22.00a930 (2014).

Fountaine, K. T., Lewerenz, H. J. & Atwater, H. A. Interplay of light transmission and catalytic exchange current in photoelectrochemical systems. Applied Physics Letters 105, 3, DOI: 10.1063/1.4900612(2014).

Fountaine, K. T., Whitney, W. S. & Atwater, H. A. Resonant absorption in semiconductor nanowires and nanowire arrays: Relating leaky waveguide modes to Bloch photonic crystal modes. Journal of Applied Physics 116, 6, DOI: 10.1063/1.4898758 (2014).

Leenheer, A. J., Narang, P., Lewis, N. S. & Atwater, H. A. Solar energy conversion via hot electron internal photoemission in metallic nanostructures: Efficiency estimates. Journal of Applied Physics 115, 7, DOI: 10.1063/1.4870040 (2014).

Pala, R. A., Leenheer, A. J., Lichterman, M., Atwater, H. A. & Lewis, N. S. Measurement of minority-carrier diffusion lengths using wedge-shaped semiconductor photoelectrodes. Energy & Environmental Science 7, 3424-3430, DOI: 10.1039/c4ee01580k (2014).

Sundararaman, R., Narang, P., Jermyn, A. S., Goddard, W. A. & Atwater, H. A. Theoretical predictions for hot-carrier generation from surface plasmon decay. Nature Communications 5, 8, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6788 (2014).

Warren, E. L., Atwater, H. A. & Lewis, N. S. Silicon Microwire Arrays for Solar Energy-Conversion Applications. Journal of Physical Chemistry C 118, 747-759, DOI: 10.1021/jp406280x (2014).


Additional Information

Atwater Group site:  http://daedalus.caltech.edu/