Speaker Institution : Electrical and Computer Engineering and The Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, University of Maryland, College Park
Title : Steering photons: from IR detectors and smart windows to space propulsion
Abstract : Photons are remarkable bundles of energy that can perform a variety of tasks. In this talk, I will present our latest research “putting photons to work for us!” Photons can impart both energy and moment upon reflection or absorption. Absorption in a metal can result in the generation of electrons with excess kinetic energy. These hot electrons can be used to enable new detectors that operate in frequency ranges not typically accessible. As two examples, I will present an all-metal photodetector that can detect visible light and a Si detector that can absorb near-IR light based on this principle. Next, I will discuss our measurements of a pressure resulting from photon reflection off a surface and how it can be used to propel spacecraft—a device known as a solar sail. Finally, I will discuss how polymer dispersed liquid crystals can be incorporated into solar cell devices to enable self-powered smart windows for large scale building applications.