The MIT Energy Club organized "MIT Photovoltaics Community Social" held this past Thursday at the Muddy Charles Pub brought together 40 of the best and brightest of MIT's rapidly growing Photovoltaics community. I have been involved with the MIT PV community since 2004 and am amazed by how much it has grown right before my eyes over the past three years.
MIT has not traditionally been a photovoltaics power house, but with the emergence of Michael Rogol, MIT ESD PhD Student, as one of the recognized leaders in analyzing and understanding the global PV market and with the notable hirings of prominent PV professors, including Tonio Buonassisi and others, MIT appears to be poised to become a leader in PV. (The key current profs at MIT who have been leading the PV/solar charge include Vladimir Bulovic (organics), Marc Baldo (organics), Ely Sachs (silicon), Dan Nocera (photocatalysis), and Mougi Bawendi (quantum dots).)
Hosted by Tonio Buonassisi, MIT's newest PV hire and first ever "pure play" photovoltaics hire, and David Danielson, MIT Energy Club founder, this event brought out folks spanning the gamut: from scientists and engineers, to industry leaders and entrepreneurs.
Peter Bermel, recent MIT PhD Physics alum and founder of StarSolar - an MIT startup that is applying photonic crystal technology to photovoltaics for light trapping and which won the "New England Energy Innovation Collaborative's $150K Energy Business Creation Contest" this past year..... Marcie Black, MIT alum and founder of BandGapEngineering, a new Boston area nano solar startup.... Evergreen Solar was represented in force, with MIT alums Adam Lorenz (Engineer) and Nol Browne (Business Development) present, and perhaps most excitingly, photovoltaics legend Jack Hanoka, Evergreen Solar co-founder, former CTO, and current V.P. of Advanced Technology, made an appearance and was promptly swarmed by a horde of budding MIT photovoltaic technologists and entrepreneurs..... Alexi Arango, MIT PhD student working on organic PV under Prof. Vladimir Bulovic, and Eerik Hantsoo, PhD student working with Prof. Ely Sachs (inventor of Evergreen Solar's string ribbon silicon technology), among many others, represented the student PV contingent. Fergus Hurley, MIT Masters student working with Prof. John Kassakian on applying photonic crystal concepts to a new brand of PV called "thermophotovoltaics" was part of the crowd as well...... Brendan Neagle, VP of Business Development at Borrego Solar, a fast growing PV installer which is just beginning to tap into the New England market with Brendan's upcoming move to Boston..... Bob Clark-Phelps, formerly with Evergreen Solar, was present representing Solasta, a new solar startup out of Boston College..... Kurt Keville, staff member at the Insitute for Soldier Nanotechnologies and leader of the MIT Solar Decathlon Team, was also in attendance. This MIT team is building a modular, moveable green home for the annual Solar Decathlon Competition to be held in the National Mall in Washington, DC. (Consider supporting the MIT Solar Decathlon Team by buying a ticket for their raffle. They are raffling off a Hybrid Toyota Camry along with many other cool energy related prizes.)
The event was a great success and if the current rate of growth of PV enthusiasm at MIT persists, I expect that the next event in three months time will have almost twice as many MIT affililiated professors, students, entrepreneurs, and industry folks who are transforming the regional and global PV landscape in attendance.