ECE 5331/6331: Optics for Energy Fall 2017


  • Assignment 4 is due Nov. 2. As a team, please submit a short report that describes a  detailed quantitative analysis of your system. Note that I want to see careful numerical simulations (you can pick the methods). Specifically, I would like you to: (1) evaluate the performance of your system in terms of overall efficiency (define it per your system); (2) summarize the main factors that determine the efficiency; (3) how does the efficiency/performance change with motion of sun (daily & seasonal), if applicable; (4) summarize strategies to improve overall lifetime performance of the system; (5) if you have built a prototype, summarize simple measurement results.
  • Note that the mid-term is Oct. 19 in class from 12:25pm to 13:45. No extra time will be given. The exam will be open-notes and open-internet, but no communication is allowed. Please bring paper to write your answers on. Show all steps for points. 
  • There is no class on Oct. 17. Please study for your mid-terms.
  • Have a good Fall Break! Don’t forget Assignment 3 and prepare for your mid-terms.
  • Assignment 3 is due Oct. 17. As a team, please submit a short report that describes a model of your system. The model must include all aspects of the system: optical, electronic, mechanical, design, etc. & can be used to analyze the performance of your innovation. You should add some preliminary numbers to explain your model. 
  • DOE’s new solar desalination program announced here. This shows the important of & opportunities in this space!
  • In-depth article of need for air-conditioning in a warming climate here.
  • Assignment 2 is due Sept. 22. As a team, please submit a report that is no longer than 3 pages describing the following: your chosen innovation (after brainstorming); what problem does your innovation solve; what challenges do you envision when implementing your innovation; how will you solve those challenges; come up with a rough plan to bring your innovation to life. 
  • Project teams are announced here. Please contact your team members via canvas. Assignment 1 is due Sept. 15 and consists of 3 steps: 1. Pick a name for your team, 2. Pick a regular time for the team to meet (remotely is fine). 3. Submit a <1 page report (PDF via email) about the existing solutions in your assigned project. The online team must submit the same report. The online students will create video presentations instead of doing live presentations. 
  • Impact of the 2017 solar eclipse on PV generation in the US assessed by DOE here
  • See list of events at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute here. They also have a list of the top student business-plan competitions here. I recommend looking at the requirements for the MIT Clean Energy Prize as guidance for your final report. The MIT competition is open to any student team in the US (not just MIT).  
  • Welcome to the Fall 2017 class! Please email me your research/technical interests or background, so I can take this into account as I assign teams. 

Objectives: In this class, we will study the exciting intersection of optics and the engineering challenges associated with generation, distribution and utilization of energy with the specific goal of generating novel ideas and  business plans for commercialization. Technically, we will cover the basics of non-imaging optics, which will allow us to apply these basics to the design of solar concentrators and other light collectors. We will also study the science and engineering of sunlight measurement, strategies of light management for solar cells, design of solar cookers, solar hot-water systems, day-lighting, resource recycling, etc.

This class is cross-listed as follows in Mechanical Engineering (ME EN 5960/6960) and Materials Science & Engineering (MSE 5050/6050).

Grading: There will be one mid-term exam comprising 20% of the grade. The rest of the grade will be based upon team projects. There will be 3 team presentations (20% each). There will also be periodic assignments (brief reports) related to the team presentations, which will all together constitute 10% of the grade. Finally, each team must complete a business-canvas analysis and commercialization plan, which will together constitute the remaining 10% of the grade. The teams will be assigned commercialization mentors and will be expected to meet with them as per the schedule below. Explicit instructions for all assignments and presentations will be provided in class. Please note that the College of Engineering policies are available here.

Online students: The online students will follow the same schedule as below, and all lecture recordings will posted here and on canvas. Grading for online students will be based on 3 team presentations (which will be submitted as short videos, 20% each), periodic assignments showing progress towards the team presentations, which will together constitute 20% of the grade, and a final business-canvas analysis and commercialization plan, which will together constitute the remaining 20% of the grade. Explicit instructions for all assignments and presentations will be provided in class. Note that online students will work in small remote teams to complete all assignments.

Class meets in WEB 1450 Tuesdays & Thursdays 12:25pm-1:45pm. Note that many of the lectures will be conducted remotely, which means that you can watch the lectures online. Please see schedule below for details.

Office Hours will be by email appointment.

Textbook: There is no single textbook that covers the concepts covered in this course. Therefore, the instructor will provide notes & other resources.

Tenative Schedule:

08/22 Overview of course. Lecture notes (PDF). Solar Cooker Basics.

08/24 Introduction to project topics.  Lecture notes ({DF). Water pasteurization Basics. Solar-water desalination: MIT Review, Wiki, MIT solar desalination article 1, article 2.  Solar refrigeration: Scientific AmericanWiki. Daylighting Wiki, Hybrid systems: Renewable Energy WorldDaylighting.

08/29 Introduction to geometrical optics.  Lecture notes (PDF). Waves & Optics from Khan Academy here[Guest lecture: Dr. Apratim Majumder] 

08/31  Introduction to geometrical optics (contd.)  Useful online model here. Sample problems from class are PDF. Note on microscope design (from MIT lecture) is here.  [Guest lecture: Dr. Apratim Majumder]

09/05 Solar Radiation: The basics. Lecture notes (PDF). Resources on basic principles. [Remote class]

09/07 Basic Thermodynamics. Lecture notes (PDF).  Wiki on heat engines. Basic Thermodynamics from Khan Academy here. Topics from PV education here. [Remote class]

09/12  Optical design for recycling. Lecture notes (PDF).  Article from OPN here. Another interesting article here. [Remote class]

09/14  Optical ray tracing software tutorial. Lecture notes (PDF). Please bring your laptops to work example design problems. You can download OSLO edu version for free here. Download & install before class. [Guest lecture: Dr. Nazmul Hasan] 

09/19 Fundamental concepts of non-imaging optics (part 1). Lecture notes (PDF). Ted Talk by Bill Gross. [Remote class]

09/21 Fundamental concepts of non-imaging optics (part 2). [Remote class]

09/26 Radiometry, Photometry. Lecture notes (PDF). Basic video explanation here. LED streetlights are giving neighborhoods the blues article.

09/28 [Team Presentation 1: Field review & innovation presentations].

10/03 Anti-reflection coatings. Lecture notes (PDF). Model for ARC design can be found here, here and related details here. [Remote class]

10/05  Mid-term review. Notes (PDF) [TA lecture]

10/08-15 Fall Break

10/17  No class. Please prepare for your mid-term.

10/19 Mid-term Exam [TA proctored]

10/24 Review of solar cells. Lecture notes. [Guest lecture: Dennis Pruzan]

10/26 Statistical Ray Optics.  Paper (PDF). Lecture notes. [Remote class]

10/31 Technology Commercialization. Lecture notes. [Guest lecture: Natan Chetrit, TVC UofU]

11/02 No class. Please work on presentation 2.

11/07  Business Model Canvas. Please watch Lectures 0 and 1 on Udacity before class here. Also see Steve Blank’s website here. Printable canvas is available here. A very useful podcast for entrepreneurs is TWIST.

11/09 [Team Presentation 2: Build-out / analysis presentations]. 

11/14 Light trapping for photovoltaics. Lecture notes. [Guest lecture by Dr. James Nagel] Teams meet with commercialization mentors this week.

11/16 Light extraction for LEDs. Lecture notes. [Guest lecture by Dr. James Nagel]

11/21 Measurement of photovoltaics. Lecture notes. [Remote class]

11/23 Thanksgiving break

11/28  Spectrum-splitting. Lecture notes. [Guest Lecture: Dr. Apratim Majumder] Teams meet with commercialization mentors this week.

11/30 No class. Please work on your final assignments.

12/05 Luminescent concentrators. Lecture notes. Interesting article on LSCs here.

12/07 [Team Presentation 3: Business Plan / Commercialization presentations] 

[Final Assignment: Final business canvas and business plan are due on Friday, Dec. 8] Resources available at Clean Tech Open &