Prize Recipient

Harry Atwater
California Institute of Technology


"For pioneering work in photonics, plasmonics, optical metamaterials, and photovoltaics, and for his outstanding presentations and outreach to the general audience."


Harry A. Atwater received his B.S. from MIT in 1981, his M.S. from MIT in 1983, and his Ph.D. from MIT in 1987. Atwater joined the faculty at California Institute of Technology in 1988 and is currently the Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science and the Director of the DOE Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis. Atwater's scientific interests have two themes: photovoltaics and solar energy as well as plasmonics and optical metamaterials. Atwater is an early pioneer in nanophotonics and plasmonics; he gave the name to the field of plasmonics in 2001. His group has created new high efficiency solar cell designs, and have developed principles for light management in solar cells. He is co-founder and chief technical advisor for Alta Devices. Atwater’s awards include the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award and MRS Kavli Lectureship in 2010; the SPIE Green Photonics Award and ENI Prize for Renewable, the Fellowship from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences,and Non-conventional Energy in 2012; and the Julius Springer Prize in Applied Physics in 2014. He is a fellow of the Materials Research Society and a member of the US National Academy of Engineering.

Selection Committee:

Judith Driscoll (Chair), Richard Greene, Jacqueline Krim, Kathleen Kash, John Robertson