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MRS Press Release

Harry Atwater Awarded the Materials Research Society's Highest Honor

October 26, 2021
Press & Public Relations Contact:

Ryan Rebholz
Communications Manager
Materials Research Society

California Institute of Technology Professor to Receive 2021 Von Hippel Award

WARRENDALE, PA – [October 26, 2021] – The 2021 Von Hippel Award, the Materials Research Society’s (MRS) highest honor, will be presented to Harry Atwater, the Otis Booth Leadership Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science and Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology. Atwater is being recognized “for fundamental research in light-matter interactions—particularly nanophotonics, plasmonics, photonic metamaterials, and solar energy conversion—and numerous applications of photon control of materials illustrating the value of fundamental research to technologies that improve the quality of life.” Conferred annually, the Von Hippel Award recognizes those qualities most prized by materials scientists and engineers—brilliance and originality of intellect, combined with vision that transcends the boundaries of conventional scientific disciplines, as exemplified by the life of Arthur von Hippel.

Atwater will accept the honor during the 2021 MRS Fall Meeting, where, at 9:00 am (EST), Wednesday, December 1, he will present his award lecture Trip the Light Fantastic.

Atwater is the Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology. Currently he is the Director for the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA), a Department of Energy Hub program for solar fuels.  Atwater’s scientific effort focuses on nanophotonic light-matter interactions and solar energy conversion.  His current research in solar energy centers on high efficiency photovoltaics and photoelectrochemical processes for generation of solar fuels, and his research has resulted in world records for solar photovoltaic conversion and photoelectrochemical water splitting. His work also spans fundamental nanophotonic phenomena, in plasmonics and 2D materials, and also applications including active metasurfaces and optical propulsion.  

From 2014-2020, Atwater served as Director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), the DOE Energy Innovation Hub for solar fuels. Atwater was an early pioneer in nanophotonics and plasmonics; he gave the name to the field of plasmonics in 2001. Atwater is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, and a Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher. He is also founder of five early-stage companies, including Alta Devices, which set world records for photovoltaic cell and module efficiency. He is also a Fellow of the SPIE, as well as APS, MRS, and the National Academy of Inventors. He is also the founding Editor in Chief of the journal ACS Photonics, and Chair of the LightSail Committee for the Breakthrough Starshot program.

Photo of Atwater available upon request at mrs.org/contact.


About the Materials Research Society

MRS is an organization of over 13,000 materials researchers from academia, industry and government worldwide, and a recognized leader in promoting the advancement of interdisciplinary materials research and technology to improve the quality of life. MRS members are students and professionals hailing from physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and engineering—the full spectrum of materials research. Headquartered in Warrendale, Pennsylvania (USA), MRS membership now spans 90 countries, with approximately 45 percent of members residing outside the United States.

MRS serves and engages members across generations to advance their careers and promote materials research and innovation. The Society produces high-quality meetings and publications, assuring that members of all career stages can present and publish their most important and timely work to an international and interdisciplinary audience. MRS continues to expand its professional development portfolio, as well as promote diversity and inclusion in the scientific workforce, with career services for researchers worldwide. The Society advocates for the importance of scientific research and innovation to policymakers and the community. And the MRS Awards program honors those whose work has already had a major impact in the field, as well as those whose work shows great promise for future leadership.

For more information about the Materials Research Society visit mrs.org and follow @Materials_MRS.