Optics for Energy Fall 2014


  • Class project videos are available here:
  • Please complete course feedback form. Thank you!
  • New world record solar-cell efficiency announced of 46%! Details here.
  • CPV with >40% efficiency from UNSW announced here.
  • Interesting article about venture capital in Utah (Nov. 2014) here.
  • Please complete the mid-semester online survey here. Your feedback is very important to me and I will take a look at all your comments carefully. Thanks!
  • SLC Makerfaire might be of interest to some of you. Its on Oct. 11, 12pm-6pm at library square. See here for details.
  • Note mid-term changed to Tuesday, October 21.
  • Instructions on obtaining free 1-year license for Light-tools (ray-tracing software) is here ((PDF)). We also have one license in my laboratory for use.
  • New research from MIT shows solar desalination can be applied in remote villages. Details here.
  • Check out this entrepreneurship bootcamp “50 startups in 5 days!” It can be done! Entrepreneurship 101 open-online course from MIT. Start digging into it.

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.

Grading: There will be one mid-term quiz comprising 30% of the grade. The rest of the grade will be based upon team projects. There will be 4 team presentations (each constituting 10% of the grade). Finally, each team must complete an application to the CU Cleantech New Business Challenge, which will constitute 30% of the grade.

Class meets in WEB 1460 Tuesdays & Thursdays 12:25pm-1:45pm. Note that last 30 minutes of most thursday classes will be devoted to project brainstorm, design, and prototyping. 

Office Hours will be by email appointment.

Textbook: Notes and other resources will be provided.

Tenative Schedule:

08/26 Overview of course.  Lecture notes (PDF). Solar Cooker Basics.

08/28 Introduction to project topics.  Lecture notes (PDF). Water pasteurization Basics. Solar-water desalination: MIT Review, Wiki. Solar refrigeration: Scientific AmericanWiki. Daylighting Wiki, Hybrid systems: Renewable Energy WorldDaylighting.

09/02 Solar Radiation: The basics. Lecture notes (PDF). Resources on basic principles.

09/04 Basic Thermodynamics. Lecture notes (PDF).  Wiki on heat engines. Basic Thermodynamics from Khan Academy here.

09/09 Introduction to geometrical optics.  Lecture notes (PDF). Waves & Optics from Khan Academy here.

09/11  Introduction to geometrical optics (contd.) 

09/16  Optical design for recycling. Lecture notes (PDF).  Article from OPN here

09/18  Light tools optical design software tutorial. Overview of light-tools (PDF). Building a lighting model (PDF). Illumination tools (PDF).

09/23  Fermat’s Principle & Lagrangian Optics. Lecture notes (PDF). Hamiltonian Optics (PDF).  Basic introduction to vector geometry from Khan Academy is here. Review basic calculus here.

09/25  [Assignment 1: Literature review presentations]

09/30  Fundamental concepts of non-imaging optics. Lecture notes (PDF).

10/02  Fundamental concepts of non-imaging optics (contd.).

10/07  Radiometry, Photometry. Lecture notes (PDF) Basic video explanation here.

10/09  Mid-term review (PDF).

10/14, 10/16 Fall Break

10/21  Mid-term

10/23 Technology Commercialization (Guest lecture: James Thomson, TVC UofU). Lecture notes (PDF).

10/28  Business Model Canvas. Please watch Lectures 0 and 1 on Udacity before class here. Also see Steve Blank’s website here

10/30 [Assignment 2: Team idea presentations]

11/04 Statistical Ray Optics.  Paper (PDF). Lecture notes (PDF).

11/06 Review of solar cells (guest lecture by Liz Lund)

11/11 Light trapping for photovoltaics (guest lecture by Dr. James Nagel)

11/13 Light extraction for LEDs (guest lecture by Dr. James Nagel)

11/18 Anti-reflection coatings. Lecture notes (PDF). 

11/20 Spectrum-splitting. Lecture notes (PDF).

11/25 [Assignment 3: Build-out / analysis presentations] Assignment 4 instructions are here

11/27 Thanksgiving break

12/02 Luminescent concentrators. Lecture notes (PDF). Intersting article on LSCs here

12/04 Measurement of photovoltaics.

12/09 Concentrated Photovoltaics.  

12/11 [Assignment 4: Business Plan / Commercialization presentations]

[Final Assignment: Cleantech New Business Challenge Application due on Friday, Dec. 12] Resources available at Clean Tech Open & SteveBlank.com

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