Eli Yablonovitch

Photo of Eli Yablonovitch
Eli Yablonovitch
  • From:

    University of California, Berkeley │ Berkeley, California

  • Year:

    2019

  • Subject:

    Electrical Engineering

  • Award:

    Benjamin Franklin Medal

  • Citation:

    For widely-used scientific improvements to radio- and light-based technologies in wireless communications and solar energy applications.

Eli Yablonovitch loves light. You don’t have to be a master of physics to appreciate his development of “photonic bandgap structures” and his discovery of “photonic crystals” in the 1980s, both of which have been widely adopted to improve radio- and light-wave technologies. In particular, the quantum-sized “light-trapping” photonic crystal structures he predicted power the modern solar energy industry with solar cells that drastically increase the energy output of previous designs. Nearly all solar solutions on the market today incorporate an architecture based on Yablonovitch’s discoveries. But even if you haven’t installed a brand new solar roof, Yablonovitch’s ingenuity has likely graced the inside of your purse or pocket. As if revolutionizing solar energy wasn’t enough, Yablonovitch went on to found Ethertronics, a company that employed his ideas to create slim form factor cell phone antennas so effective that the company has shipped more than 1.7 billion units to major name brand manufacturers worldwide. Yablonovitch’s ideas also allow engineers to design low-voltage transmitters that increase battery life and ultra-small electrical circuits that promise smaller, less power-hungry communications hardware than we use today.