Photonics in two dimensions: Optical metasurfaces and large area 2D photovoltaics
Photonic materials and devices hold great potential to address pressing societal challenges related to energy use, sensing, communications, space exploration, and more. In this talk I will primarily address two technologies we are developing that harness light interactions within two-dimensional structures. First, we are developing low-loss and tunable optical metasurfaces featuring highly resonant nanophotonic antennas, which offer the potential for revolutionary new optical functionality. We employ these in both biosensing and optical modulator applications, the latter of which utilizes two different phase change materials. Second, we are synthesizing novel two-dimensional semiconductor materials at wafer scale and are studying their unique potential for high specific power photovoltaics. I will briefly highlight a third research thrust at the macroscale, in which we are building solar energy cogeneration systems designed to harvest the solar spectrum more fully, generating both electricity and high temperature process heat for a range of commercial and industrial applications.
Biography: Matthew Escarra is an associate professor in Physics and Engineering Physics at Tulane University, where he also serves as the faculty director of the Tulane Micro/Nanofabrication Facility. He received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Princeton University in 2011, where he made advances in the performance of quantum cascade lasers and mid-infrared metamaterials. He went on to complete postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology, where he developed new approaches to high efficiency solar energy conversion using spectrum splitting photonic structures. He also has worked with several companies, small and large, to commercialize related technologies, including Daylight Solutions, Otherlab, Dow Chemical, and Boeing-Spectrolab. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award and a Senior Member of IEEE and Optica. At Tulane, his research team has developed a spectrum-splitting solar cogeneration system that converts sunlight to steam and electricity with 85% efficiency. His team also has made advancements in low-loss and phase-change metasurfaces and in large area optoelectronics from two-dimensional semiconductors.