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SEMINAR: Photons as Energy and Fuel- Harnessing Nanoscale Light-Matter Interactions in Terrestrial and Space Domains

February 19 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am

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The diverse range of available thermodynamic resources—from the Sun at 6,000 degrees to cold space at 3 degrees—offers great potential for energy and environmental applications. To harness these resources, the ability to control radiative energy processes is of vital importance. In the first part of my talk, I will discuss how nanoscale photonic structures and two-dimensional material platforms can manipulate thermal electromagnetic fields in unprecedented ways. I will present the work on tailoring thermal emission by photonic elements that enable light recycling, which could lead to high efficiency lighting and heat-to-electricity energy harvesting. I will also show how nano-architected two-dimensional materials can challenge conventional thermal radiation, from radiative energy exchange that overcomes the Planck’s blackbody limit, to active manipulation of thermal signatures.
In the second part of my talk, I will discuss how optical manipulation of objects with engineered nanostructure can open up frontiers in opto-mechanics, leading to new levitation and propulsion paradigms. I will show how macroscopic—mm, cm, or even larger—objects could be stably manipulated at arbitrary distances by embedding nanoscale elements that control the anisotropy of light scattering along the object surface. Combining such concepts of thermo-photonic engineering, I will conclude with a vision for harnessing the momentum and the energy of light in space: from ultra-fast light driven spacecraft for scalable space exploration, to multifunctional lightweight metamaterials for effective management of the thermal electromagnetic spectrum.


Dr. Ognjen IlicDr. Ognjen Ilic is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science at Caltech. Prior to coming to Caltech, he received his Ph.D. from MIT, and completed his A.B. at Harvard University. His research sits at the intersection of thermal science, nano-photonics, and low-dimensional materials and meta-materials. He is particularly interested in renewable energy and efficient energy harvesting, opto-mechanics and light-driven dynamics, and algorithmic design and optimization of nano-structured materials. His work has been featured in various media outlets including Scientific American, The Economist, and Popular Science.


February 19
10:00 am - 11:00 am
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EB3 3122