PEFL Eli Yablonovitch — Lecture

Event Date: April 3, 2024
Speaker: Eli Yablonovitch, Professor in the Graduate School, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department, University of California, Berkeley
Time: 3:00-4:00 PM EST
Location: Armstrong Atrium
Priority: No
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Carbon Dioxide Removal to Solve the Climate Crisis

Eli Yablonovitch


In 1977, physicist Freeman Dyson proposed the burial of biomass as a scalable, economical solution to the CO2 problem. Today we know that the harvested vegetation should be buried in an engineered dry environmental chamber. Plant biomass can be preserved for thousands of years by burial in a dry environment with sufficiently low thermodynamic "water activity," which is the relative humidity in equilibrium with the biomass. A "water activity" <60% will not support life, suppressing anaerobic organisms, thus preserving the biomass for millennia. Current agriculture costs and burial costs indicate $60/tonne of sequestered CO2, which corresponds to 53 cents per gallon of gasoline. If scaled to the level of a major crop, existing CO2 can be extracted from the atmosphere and sequester a significant fraction of prior years' CO2 emissions.


Eli Yablonovitch introduced the idea that strained semiconductor lasers could have superior performance due to reduced valence band (hole) effective mass. With almost every human interaction with the internet, optical telecommunication occurs by strained semiconductor lasers.

He is regarded as a father of the photonic bandgap concept, and he coined the term "photonic crystal." The geometrical structure of the first experimentally realized photonic bandgap, is sometimes called "Yablonovite."

In his photovoltaic research, Yablonovitch introduced the 4(n squared) ("Yablonovitch Limit") light-trapping factor that is in worldwide use, for almost all commercial solar panels.

He was elected to NAE, NAS, NAI, AmAcArSci and as Foreign Member, UK Royal Society.

This is hosted by the College of Engineering, ECE Frontiers Center for Quantum and AI, Purdue Quantum Science and Engineering Institute, and the Birck Nanotechnology Center.