Caltech Announces New, Disruptive Innovation

Caltech Announces New, Disruptive Innovation

Guest Blog by Thomson Reuters Sustainability

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Monday, May 19, 2014 - 10:45am



Dr. Harry Atwater of Caltech is one of the world’s leading researchers of Applied Physics and Materials Science, specializing in technology related to photovoltaics and solar energy (1).   As director of Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute, he is also the visionary and catalyst behind a new set of awards (the Resonate Awards) to recognize unsung heroes in scientific advances related to sustainability. Thomson Reuters Sustainability sat down with him to find out about this exciting initiative to bring daylight to breakthrough achievements in energy science and sustainability. Below are the Resonate Award winners for 2014:

2014 Resonate Award: A renewable power grid, when it’s not sunny or windy.

Dr. Atwater: Let’s start with Javad Lavaei who is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. He is receiving the 2014 Resonate Award for his work on incorporating solar, storage and other energy resources into the electricity grid in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Essentially, he has developed a robust system or model which would allow a diverse set of power generation and distribution without creating instability for the end user of electricity, even if the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. His grid model opens the door for a fundamental shift towards renewable power integration into our electricity grid. It also potentially moots the need for much of the energy storage and infrastructure planning which now exists.

Sustainability: How about Dr. Jaramillo?

2014 Resonate Award: Solar power for your gas tank.

Dr. Atwater: Tom Jaramillo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. Tom’s award winning work focuses on taking carbon dioxide emission out of the process to produce liquid fuels for the trains, planes and automobiles we all use. His endeavors have led to the discovery of a catalyst for the production of hydrogen using solar power and very commonly occurring natural materials. Hydrogen can then be easily combined with other compounds to create liquid fuels and chemicals in a sustainable manner, improving the economics of renewable energy sources with the potential to replace petroleum-based liquid energy.

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(1) According to Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators, a subset of the Web of Science, Dr. Atwater ranks among the top 1% most-cited authors in both Physics and Materials Science, based on citations tracked over the last decade.