Newswise — The 2021 Von Hippel Award, the Materials Research Society’s (MRS) highest honor, will be presented to Harry Atwater, the Otis Booth Leadership Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science and Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology. Atwater is being recognized “for fundamental research in light-matter interactions—particularly nanophotonics, plasmonics, photonic metamaterials, and solar energy conversion—and numerous applications of photon control of materials illustrating the value of fundamental research to technologies that improve the quality of life.” Conferred annually, the Von Hippel Award recognizes those qualities most prized by materials scientists and engineers—brilliance and originality of intellect, combined with vision that transcends the boundaries of conventional scientific disciplines, as exemplified by the life of Arthur von Hippel.

Atwater will accept the honor during the 2021 MRS Fall Meeting, where, at 9:00 am (EST), Wednesday, December 1, he will present his award lecture Trip the Light Fantastic.

Atwater is the Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology. Currently he is the Director for the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA), a Department of Energy Hub program for solar fuels.  Atwater’s scientific effort focuses on nanophotonic light-matter interactions and solar energy conversion.  His current research in solar energy centers on high efficiency photovoltaics and photoelectrochemical processes for generation of solar fuels, and his research has resulted in world records for solar photovoltaic conversion and photoelectrochemical water splitting. His work also spans fundamental nanophotonic phenomena, in plasmonics and 2D materials, and also applications including active metasurfaces and optical propulsion.  

From 2014-2020, Atwater served as Director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), the DOE Energy Innovation Hub for solar fuels. Atwater was an early pioneer in nanophotonics and plasmonics; he gave the name to the field of plasmonics in 2001. Atwater is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, and a Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher. He is also founder of five early-stage companies, including Alta Devices, which set world records for photovoltaic cell and module efficiency. He is also a Fellow of the SPIE, as well as APS, MRS, and the National Academy of Inventors. He is also the founding Editor in Chief of the journal ACS Photonics, and Chair of the LightSail Committee for the Breakthrough Starshot program.

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