Date Published: July 26, 2016

Professor Robert A. Norwood's research portfolio consists of work ranging from nanoscale electro-optic modulators to 40 square meter hybrid solar energy systems. A common theme that cuts across this 10 order of magnitude change in length scale is the coupling of fundamental optical materials and device physics to emerging applications with significant impact. The Photonic Materials and Device Lab (PMDL) is constantly seeking out new optical materials and photonic device innovations that can impact a broad range of applications, ranging from information technology to renewable energy, to infrared optics.  

The ARPA-E MOSAIC program is focused on creating more efficient (> 30%) solar panels by combining standard silicon panels for diffuse light collection (labeled as 1-Sun sheet in the figure below) and high efficiency concentrated photovoltaic arrays for the direct sunlight (know as direct normal insolation or DNI).  Key optical design elements include a cylindrical lens concentrator in one direction and a waveguide sheet concentrator in the other direction as shown in the schematic.  This work is also done under subcontract to Sharp Laboratories of America and started in January 2016.   

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Schematic showing basic approach to a high efficiency solar panel.