Optics for Solar Energy (SOLAR)

06 November 2017 – 09 November 2017 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado United States

The OSA Optics for Solar Energy (SOLAR) conference brings together top international researchers and experts in the area of optical research and technology related to solar energy conversion via solar-thermal and concentrator photovoltaic systems. The SOLAR conference provides an ideal platform to disseminate advancements related to these research areas. In addition, it is also an opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss pertinent topics with international experts.

Solar-thermal energy and concentrator photovoltaic systems employ a range of optical elements for collecting, guiding, concentrating, coupling, trapping, transforming and absorbing sunlight. Optical components typically constitute the largest cost component of solar systems. Consequently, a large body of research is devoted to improving all optical aspects of solar systems, to enhance the performance, reduce the costs, and maximize the reliability.

Besides the broad areas of energy conversion via solar-thermal and concentrator photovoltaic systems, contributions from new emerging solar energy-related research areas are encouraged.

Strong synergies exist between the SOLAR conference and other tracks at the OSA Light, Energy and the Environment congress. It is one objective of this conference to bring together solar energy researchers with the broader global optical research community, for example in the areas of atmospheric research and measurement, laser-based diagnostics of reactive flows and other areas, to identify and promote such synergies.

Major topics discussed at this conference related to solar-thermal energy research include (but are not limited to):
  • Solar concentrator (heliostat fields, parabolic dish, parabolic trough, linear Fresnel, and alternative concepts) design, field layout, numerical analysis (e.g. forward and backward ray-tracing, cone-optics, and other modeling methods), measurement, testing, and algorithmic optimization
  • Secondary reflector and concentrator design, modelling, analysis, optimization and testing (including for high-temperature processes)
  • Development, manufacturing and testing of reflective materials and optical surface coatings
  • Measurement and long-term evaluation of optical material properties; analysis of soiling and degradation
  • Novel methods for experimental heliostat field analysis and monitoring, control and operation
  • Techno-economic analysis of solar collectors and collector fields and their influence on overall system costs
  • Optical and radiative heat transfer analyses for solar receiver and reactor design, including modelling, simulation, optimisation and measurement of radiative heat transport in participating porous and particulate reactive media
  • Design and optimization, development, modelling, characterization and operation of concentrating solar research facilities (simulators, furnaces, tower and dishes)
  • Radiative intensity, flux and power measurement methodologies and techniques
  • Emerging concepts in concentrating solar energy
  • Solar resource-related research and modelling (including irradiation data measurement, cloud forecasting and tracking, aerosol research and data processing)


Clifford Ho, Sandia National LaboratoriesUnited States
Overview of Central Receiver Systems for Concentrating Solar Power: Optical Advancements and Needs

Peter Bermel, Purdue UniversityUnited States
Optical Modeling and Characterization of Radiative Cooling for Solar Energy Applications , Invited

Drew DeJarnette, United States Department of EnergyUnited States
The SunShot Initiative: Concentrating Solar Power, Invited

Michael Haney, Advanced Research Projects Agency-EnergyUnited States
The ARPA-E MOSAIC Program: Advancing Micro-scale Concentrated Photovoltaics, Invited

Marc Korevaar, Kipp & Zonen B.V.Netherlands
Measuring the Sun: the Components of Solar Radiation, Traceability, and PV Panel Soiling , Invited

Greg Mungas, Hyperlight EnergyUnited States
Development Overview of a Commercial, Low Cost Linear Fresnel Reflector System Using Waterborne Reflectors , Invited

Gregory Rieker, University of Colorado at BoulderUnited States
Prospects for laser-based sensing in solar reactors , Invited

Rudi Santbergen, Technische Universiteit DelftNetherlands
Mirror Designs for Low-concentation PV Systems with High Efficiency c-Si Solar Cells , Invited

Nathan Siegel, Bucknell UniversityUnited States
The Design and Experimental Characterization of High Flux Solar Simulators using Metal Halide Arc Lamps, Invited

Ellen Stechel, Arizona State UniversityUnited States
Solar Thermochemistry for Solar Fuels and Thermal Storage: Special Considerations for the Solar Concentrators, Invited

Roland Winston, University of California MercedUnited States
A Thermodynamic Approach to Solar Concentration, A New Paradigm, Invited

Xiaobo Yin, University of Colorado at BoulderUnited States
Scalably Manufactured Metafilms for Effective Day-time Radiative Cooling, Invited

Zongfu Yu, University of Wisconsin-MadisonUnited States
Light Management in Resonant Structures, Invited

Roman Bader, Australian Solar Thermal Association, Australia , Chair
Olindo Isabella, Technische Universiteit Delft, Netherlands , Chair
Jeremy Munday, University of Maryland at College Park, United States , Chair

Marco Ernst, Australian National University, Australia
Nasser Karam, KaramcoUSA Consulting, United States
John Koshel, University of Arizona, United States
Wojciech Lipinski, Australian National University, Australia
Alexander Mellor, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
Bonna Newman, ECN Solar Energy, Netherlands
Andru Prescod, ManTech International Corp, United States
Domingo Santana, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain
Nathan Schuknecht, Skyfuel Inc., United States
Stefania Tescari, German Aerospace Center, Germany
Alan Weimer, University of Colorado at Boulder, United States
Roland Winston, University of California Merced, United States
Xiaodan Zhang, Nankai University, China  

Welcome Reception

Sunday, 5 November, 18:00-20:00
Millennium Room, Millennium Harvest House Boulder

Join your fellow attendees at the Congress hotel, Millennium Harvest House Boulder, for the welcome reception. During the reception you can pick up your registration materials. The reception is open to all congress attendees. 

Congress Plenary Session

Monday, 6 November, 08:30-10:00
NCAR Center Green 1

The Congress will start on Monday with the Plenary Speaker, Michael E. Webber.

IPAC Session on Global Environmental Monitoring and Measurement

Tuesday, 7 November, 08:30-10:00
NCAR Center Green 1

IPAC (The International Photonics Advocacy Coalition) will host this session to bring together domain experts and government officials to discuss photonics-based technology solutions for accurate and reliable environmental monitoring, reporting and effective policy implementation.
Welcome and Overview of IPAC
Tom Baer, Stanford University, USA /IPAC Steering Committee Chair
New Airborne Observing Systems for Climate Research: Challenges for Laser, Electronics, and Optical Designs
James G. Anderson, Harvard Univ., USA

A brief review of dominant feedbacks within the climate structure that set the timescale for irreversible changes to the Earth’s climate system is presented. Emerging developments defining a new era of airborne observing systems are linked to strategies addressing key unanswered scientific questions regarding the climate system. Given these new observing systems, it is demonstrated that the new developments constitute key challenges for new designs in lasers, electronics and optical systems.

Panel Discussion
Kevin Trenberth, NCAR Boulder, USA
Nathan Newbury, NIST Boulder, USA
Scott Spuler,  LIDAR Group - NCAR Boulder, USA
Kelly Chance, Harvard Smithsonian, USA

IPAC is a global initiative that brings together experts from industry, academia and government to educate policymakers and influencers about photonics technologies; collaborate and coordinate among industry, government and academia to advance knowledge of photonics technologies; and to advocate for funding for optics and photonics initiatives.

Tours to Local Labs

Tuesday, 7 November, 12:00-16:00
Tours will leave from NCAR Center Green at 12:10.  All groups will return to Mesa Visitor Center. 

There is a $30 fee to particpate in a tour which includes a box lunch. Registration for tours will end on 25 October. 

NCAR - The tour will be at the NCAR's Research Aviation Facility in Broomfield, CO.

NOAA/NIST - The tour will visit several laboratories in NOAA and NIST at the Department of Commerce site in Boulder.

NREL - This tour features NREL¹s South Table Mountain research campus and will include stops at the Science & Technology Facility and Solar Energy Research Support Facility.

Keynote Session I

Tuesday, 7 November, 16:00-17:30
Mesa Visitor Center

Clifford Ho, Sandia National Laboratories, USA, Overview of Central Receiver Systems for Concentrating Solar Power: Optical Advancements and Needs

Kelly V. Chance, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA, North American pollution measurements from geostationary orbit with Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO).

Optical Startups - From Idea to Business

Tuesday, 7 November, 17:30-18:30
Mesa Visitor Center

The optical community will hear from technology entrepreneurs on what it takes to develop and run a business.  How to successfully take laboratory innovation, which often relies on highly skilled and very devoted personnel, and expand them into a business.  How to avoid pitfalls of an indifferent bureaucracy that takes over the technology with lesser skilled and less devoted personnel.  



Dirk Richter, Quanta3, USA

Mike Anderson, Vescent Photonics, USA


Andy Goldstein, Univ. of Colorado Boulder Technology Transfer Office, USA


Ramin Lalezari, FiveNine Optics, USA


Chris Myatt, MBio Diagnostics Inc., USA



Conference Banquet

Tuesday, 7 November, 18:30-21:00
Mesa Visitor Center

Come join your fellow colleagues at the Congress Banquet.  Enjoy dinner, drinks and networking.  There is a  nominal extra cost of $10.00 for attendees and $50.00 for your guest. 

Keynote Session II

Wednesday, 8 November, 08:30-10:00
NCAR Center Green 1

Kwang-Leong Choy, University College London, UK, Freeform Optics from Design to Manufacture and its Envisioned Impact on Technology to Enable the Science of Tomorrow

Jeff Tsao, Sandia National LaboratoriesUSA, The New World of Lighting: SSL and Beyond

Poster Session

Wednesday, 8 November, 17:30-18:30
NCAR Center Green 1

Posters are an integral part of the technical program and offer a unique networking opportunity, where presenters can discuss their results one-to-one with interested parties. The posters will be displayed in the main foyer throughout the day, but this will be your chance to discuss with the presenting author their results.

Thirst for Power: Energy, Water and Human Survival
Michael E. Webber, The University of Texas at Austin, USA

Abstract: This talk offers a big picture perspective that reveals the interdependence of the world’s two most critical resources -- energy and water. In addition to identifying the seriousness of the challenges, it lays out an optimistic approach with an array of solutions.

As Deputy Director of the Energy Institute, Co-Director of the Clean Energy Incubator, Josey Centennial Professor in Energy Resources, Author, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Michael E. Webber trains the next generation of energy leaders at the University of Texas at Austin and beyond through research and education at the convergence of engineering, policy, and commercialization.

His recent book, “Thirst for Power: Energy, Water and Human Survival”, which addresses the connection between earth’s most valuable resources and offers a hopeful approach toward a sustainable future, is receiving wide praise. His television special Energy at the Movies was in national syndication on PBS stations 2013-2015, and a suite of energy literacy tools titled Energy 101, including videos, online courses, and an interactive ebook, is available globally.
 He was selected as a Fellow of ASME, has authored more than 300 publications, holds 4 patents, and serves on the advisory board for Scientific American.  Webber holds a B.S. and B.A. from UT Austin, and M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford.  He was honored as an American Fellow of the German Marshall Fund, an AT&T Industrial Ecology Fellow, and on four separate occasions by the University of Texas for exceptional teaching.

Keynote Speakers

North American pollution measurements from geostationary orbit with Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO)
Kelly Chance, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA

Abstract: TEMPO, the first NASA Earth Venture Instrument, launches soon to measure atmospheric pollution from Mexico City and Cuba to the Canadian oil sands, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It does this hourly at high spatial resolution to measure the key elements of air pollution chemistry. Geostationary measurements capture the variability in the diurnal cycle of emissions and chemistry at sub-urban scale to improve emission inventories, monitor population exposure, and enable emission-control strategies.

Kelly Chance is a Senior Physicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Principal Investigator for the NASA/Smithsonian Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) satellite instrument that is currently being built to measure North American air pollution, including Mexico, the U.S., Canada, Cuba and The Bahamas at high spatial resolution, hourly from geostationary orbit (tempo.si.edu). He has been measuring Earth’s atmosphere from balloons, aircraft, the ground and, especially, from satellites since receiving his PhD from Harvard in 1977. Measurements include the physics and chemistry of the stratospheric ozone layer, climate-altering greenhouse gases, and atmospheric pollution. Together with Prof. Randall V. Martin, Dr. Chance has just published “Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer of Planetary Atmospheres,” based upon their teaching, by the Oxford University Press.

Innovation in optical materials design to manufacture for driving high performance photovoltaics cost-effectively
Kwang-Leong Choy, University College London, UK

Abstract: This presentation gives an overview of the innovation in the design of optical nanostructures and advanced thin films. These include transparent conducting electrodes, anti-reflective coatings, window layers and absorbers. Such materials development combining with the innovation in non-vacuum, eco-friendly and low temperature manufacturing processes have contributed towards the development of high performance thin film solar cells cost-effectively.

Kwang Leong Choy was a Violette and Samuel Glasstone Research Fellow at Oxford where she has developed flame assisted vapour deposition (a variant of CVD) of films, before joining Imperial College in 1994 as a Governor's Lecturer. In 2001, she was promoted to Reader for her pioneering research on the innovative non-vacuum Electrostatic Spray Assisted Vapour Deposition (ESAVD) method at Imperial College London. She has been the recipient of the Grunfeld Medal and Prize from Institute of Materials (UK) for the recognition of her contribution to innovative coating materials/processes and later she has founded a spin-out company known as IMPT Ltd to exploit the ESAVD technology. She has been the international expert reviewer for Ontario Research Fund, Hong Kong Productivity Council and Greek Ministry of Education/European Commission. She has been awarded Guest Professorships at the University of Uppsala (2001/03), Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering (NIMTE, 2010/2012), and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Visiting Professorship for Senior International Scientist (2011/2013). 

Overview of Central Receiver Systems for Concentrating Solar Power:
Optical Advancements and Needs

Clifford Ho, Sandia National Laboratories, USA

Abstract: This presentation provides an overview of concentrating solar power (CSP) and associated optical research and needs.  CSP uses large arrays of mirrors to focus sunlight onto a receiver to heat water/steam, molten salt, air, or other media for electricity production and thermal energy storage.

Dr. Cliff Ho is a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, where he has worked since 1993 on problems involving solar energy, water safety and sustainability, heat- and mass-transfer processes in porous media, and microchemical sensor systems for environmental monitoring.  Dr. Ho has authored over 200 scientific papers, including 10 patents, and he is an author and co-editor of two books. He received an Outstanding Professor Award at the University of New Mexico in 1997, and he received the national Asian American Engineer of the Year Award in 2010.   Dr. Ho received R&D 100 Awards in 2013 and 2016 for innovations in solar energy, and he won Discover Magazine’s The Future of Energy in Two-Minutes-or-Less video contest.  Dr. Ho received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1989, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1990 and 1993.

The New World of Lighting: SSL and Beyond
Jeff Tsao, Sandia National LaboratoriesUSA

Abstract: We review the tremendous progress that has been made in solid-state lighting for illumination, and the potential for future progress towards a new world of lighting that goes well beyond solid-state lighting for illumination.

Jeff Tsao is a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories. From 1981 to 1991, at MIT-Lincoln Laboratory and Sandia, he studied laser microchemistry and the materials science of strained heterostructures, culminating in a research monograph “Materials Fundamentals of Molecular Beam Epitaxy.” From 1991 to 2001, he was research manager at Sandia then VP of R&D at E2O Communications, a U.S.-based pre-IPO fiber communications company. From 2001 to 2009, he returned to Sandia, spearheading white papers and reports which helped set larger national and global research directions, including in solid-state lighting. From 2009 to 2014, he served as Chief Scientist of Sandia’s Energy Frontier Research Center for Solid-State-Lighting Science. In 2016, he began a part-time Harvard Belfer Center Fellow appointment to begin framing and articulating guiding principles for the practice and nurturing of research.

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