Optics for Energy Fall 2018


Thanks for a great class! Please don’t forget to fill out the surveys. All the grades are posted now.

Final submission videos are here: 

  • Please make sure to attend the last lecture on Tuesday, Dec. 4. I will clarify the instructions for the final presentations. Make sure to email me if will you be absent.
  • Note that I’d like to post the final videos on our class website. Therefore, please email me the movie file or upload to youtube (or something similar) and email me the link.
  • Please note: Assignment 4 should cover the commercialization topics as listed in the instructions below. The video (<3min) and canvas (1st and last versions) constitute the final assignment. But, feel free to include these as part of Assignment 4 if you wish (in which case, you don’t need to submit them again).
  • End of semester course feedback reviews are open. Please complete these as soon as you can. It is important for me and the College to receive this feedback.
  • The updated Instructions for assignment 4 (due Dec. 6), and the final submission (business canvas and video all due Dec. 7) are PDF. Note the changes: There is no need to submit a 2-page business plan for the final assignment. For the video pitch, please use your creativity to pitch your innovation/company. You can look at videos from previous classes for inspiration. 
  • Please schedule your 2nd meeting with commercialization mentors this week. You need to present your updated business canvas (after conducting customer interviews) and also obtain feedback on your last 2 assignments.
  • Note that attendance at guest lectures is mandatory. You can email me in advance if you are going to miss any.
  • Note that there is no class on Tuesday, Nov. 20. Please use this time to work on your next assignments. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
  • Don’t forget to meet with your commercialization mentors next week. This is mandatory. Also, Assignment 3 is due on Thursday, Nov. 15.
  • It is strongly recommended that you don’t miss class on Tuesday (Nov. 13). We will be doing your team-based business canvas project in class. In order to watch the lectures on Udacity, you will have to first sign up for a free account here and then search for the class “How to build a startup.”
  • Please see assignment of commercialization mentors and instructions for your meetings with them here. Keep in mind to schedule the meetings in advance as everyone gets super busy around Thanksgiving!
  • Please complete a mid-semester survey here by Oct. 31. I really appreciate your feedback. It will only take 2 mins!
  • Consider submitting an application for Lassonde Center’s Opportunity Quest Business Plan Competition. The deadline is Nov. 29 and details are here. You can use your final assignment for this!
  • If you are interested in attending this conference at the U: Renewable Energy Law and Policy in the United States, please email the instructor before Oct. 25 for free registration.
  • Classes are cancelled today (Tuesday Oct. 23) in light of recent events. We will resume regular class on Thursday, Oct. 25. Please see schedule below for updates.
  • Mid-term solutions will be worked out in class on Tuesday, Oct. 30. Please make sure to attend class.
  • Assignment 3 is due Nov. 15 and instructions are available here: PDF.
  • Assignment 2 is due in class on Thursday, Oct. 18. Instructions were provided last month and is also available here.
  • Please read the paper on Statistical Optics available here (PDF) before class on Tuesday, Oct. 16.
  • Note that the mid-term is on Thursday (Oct. 4) in class. The policy is open book, open internet, etc. However, communication with others and/or plagiarism is strictly prohibited. Keep in mind that there is no class on Tuesday (Oct. 2).
  • Everyone (except the online students) are required to attend the mid-term review on Sept. 27. Note that this lecture wont be recorded.
  • Check out this beautiful article about why the filters in the mouth of a manta ray never clogs. Could you take inspiration to create such uncloggable water filters, water desalination systems?
  • A very useful essay on design thinking is here. Please read it as you approach your Assignment 2. 
  • Interesting analysis of the performance of solar cells on a motorway here. This is an excellent example of associated design trade-offs!
  • Passive solar powered de-icing system! See interesting press release here.
  • Assignment 1 is on Sept. 13. Please make sure that you present in person in class unless you are in the online team or you request an exception from me. If you are absent, points will be taken off.
  • Project teams and assignment 1 (due Sep. 13) instructions posted here: (PDF). Online students must submit a video of their presentation.
  • Recent study from MIT shows pollution can significantly impact output of solar panels. Press article is here. This is related to our lecture on the basic concepts of sunlight and how our atmosphere affects 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 exam comprising 20% of the grade. The rest of the grade will be based upon team projects. There will be 4 team presentations (15% each). Finally, each team must complete a business-canvas analysis and commercialization plan, which will together constitute the remaining 20% 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.

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. 

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 4 presentations (which will be submitted as short videos, 20% each), 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 (or individually) to complete all assignments.

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:

08/21 Overview of course. Lecture notes (PDF). Solar Cooker Basics.

08/23 Introduction to project topics. Lecture notes (PDF).  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. Call from US Army about creating an individual desalination system here.

08/28 Solar Radiation: The basics. Lecture notes (PDF). Resources on basic principles. [Remote class]

08/30 Basic Thermodynamics. Lecture notes (PDF). Wiki on heat engines. Basic Thermodynamics from Khan Academy here. [Remote lecture] Project teams & topics assigned.

09/04 Introduction to geometrical optics.  Lecture notes (PDF). Waves & Optics from Khan Academy here. [Guest lecture: Dr. Apratim Majumder]

09/06  Introduction to geometrical optics (contd.)  Useful online model here. Sample problems from class are here. [Guest lecture: Dr. Apratim Majumder]

09/11  Fundamental concepts of non-imaging optics (part 1). Lecture notes (PDF). Ted Talk by Bill Gross.

09/13  [Assignment 1: Literature review presentations]. Instructions for Assignment 2 are here.

09/18 Fundamental concepts of non-imaging optics (part 2). [Remote lecture]


09/20  Radiometry, Photometry. Lecture notes (PDF). Basic video explanation here. LED streetlights are giving neighborhoods the blues article. [Remote lecture] There was an issue saving the video for this lecture. Please refer to the video from last year’s class available here.

09/25  Optical Ray-tracing software tutorial. [Guest lecture: Dr. Apratim Majumder] Please download this and this text file for the ray-tracing tutorial in class.  [Note STEM Career Fair is today! Use your assignment 1 as a showcase with your resume.]

09/27 Mid-term review (PDF). [TA lecture]. 

10/02 No class. Prepare for mid-term & assignment 2. 

10/04  Mid-term Exam [TA proctored]

10/9, 10/11 Fall Break

10/16 Statistical Ray Optics. Lecture notes (PDF).Paper (PDF). 

10/18 [Assignment 2: Team innovation presentations]

10/23 Class cancelled today.

10/25 Optical design for recycling. Lecture notes (PDF). Article from OPN here.  

Anti-reflection coatings. Lecture notes (PDF). [Remote lecture] 

10/30 Measurement of photovoltaics. Lecture notes (PDF)[Remote lecture] Mid-term solutions will be worked out in class. 

11/01 Spectrum-splitting. Lecture notes (PDF). [Remote lecture]. Useful reference paper here.

11/06 Review of solar cells. Lecture notes (PDF). [Guest lecture: Dr. Apratim Majumder].

11/08 Technology Commercialization. Lecture notes (PDF). [TVC Guest lecture: Chris Tihansky].   

11/13  Business Model Canvas. In order to watch the lectures on Udacity, you will have to first sign up for a free account here and then search for the class “How to build a startup.” Also see Steve Blank’s website here. Printable canvas is available here. A very useful podcast for entrepreneurs is TWIST.  Teams meet with commercialization mentors this week.

11/15 [Assignment 3: Build-out / analysis presentations]. Instructions are available here: PDF.

11/20 No class. Prepare for assignment 4 & final report. 

11/22 Thanksgiving break

11/27 Light trapping for photovoltaics. Lecture notes (PDF). [Guest lecture by Dr. James Nagel] Teams meet with commercialization mentors this week. 

11/29 Light extraction for LEDs. Lecture notes (PDF). [Guest lecture by Dr. James Nagel]

12/04 Luminescent concentrators. Lecture notes (PDF). Interesting article on LSCs here.  

12/06 [Assignment 4: Business Plan / Commercialization presentations] The updated Instructions for assignment 4 (due Dec. 6), and the final submission (business canvas and video all due Dec. 7) are PDF. Note the changes: There is no need to submit a 2-page business plan for the final assignment. For the video pitch, please use your creativity to pitch your innovation/company. You can look at videos from previous classes for inspiration.  

[Final Assignment: Final business canvas and pitch video are due on Friday, Dec. 7] Resources available at Clean Tech Open & SteveBlank.com