Optics for Energy Fall 2018


  • Assignment 3 is due Nov. 15 and instructions are available here: PDF.
  • Mid-term solutions will be worked out in class on Tuesday, Oct. 23. Please make sure to attend class.
  • 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 Optical design for recycling. Article from OPN here. [Remote lecture] Mid-term solutions will be worked out in class. 

10/25 Anti-reflection coatings. Lecture notes (PDF). [Remote lecture]

10/30 Measurement of photovoltaics. [Remote lecture]

11/01 Spectrum-splitting. [Remote lecture]

11/06 Review of solar cells [Guest lecture].

11/08 Technology Commercialization [Guest lecture from TVC].   

11/13  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.  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 [Guest lecture by Dr. James Nagel] Teams meet with commercialization mentors this week.

11/29 Light extraction for LEDs [Guest lecture by Dr. James Nagel]

12/04 Luminescent concentrators. Interesting article on LSCs here.  

12/06 [Assignment 4: Business Plan / Commercialization presentations] Instructions are here (PDF). 

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