Eli Yablonovitch is Director of the NSF Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S), a multi-University Center headquartered at Berkeley.
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.
In his photovoltaic research, Yablonovitch introduced the 4(n squared) ("Yablonovitch Limit") light-trapping factor that is in worldwise use, for almost all commercial solar panels.
His mantra that "a great solar cell also needs to be a great LED", is the basis of the world record solar cells: single-junction 28.8% efficiency; dual-junction 31.5%; quadruple-junction 38.8% efficiency; all at 1 sun.
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".
His startup company ethertronics Inc., has shipped over two billion cellphone antennas. He co-Founded Luxtera Inc., the originator and world leader of Silicon Photonics.
He has been elected to the NAE, the NAS, the AAcAS, and as Foreign Member, UK Royal Society. Among his honors is the Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society, and the Issac Newton Medal of the UK Institute of Physics, and the IEEE Cherry Award for solar cells. Prof. Yablonovitch is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, the IEEE, and the Amerian Physical Society. He has also been awarded the Adolf Lomb Medal, the W. Streifer Scientific Achievement Award, the R. W. Wood Prize, the Julius Springer Prize, the IET Mountbatten Medal (UK), the IEEE Photonics Award, the Harvey Prize (Israel), and the Rank Prize (UK). He also has an honorary Ph.D. from the Royal Inst. of Tech., Stockholm Sweden, and from the Hong Kong Univ. of Sci. & Technology. He serves as a Co-Founder and Board Member of the following companies: Ethertronics, Inc. (cellphone antennas), & Luxtera, Inc. (Silicon Photonics).
He received his Ph.D. degree in Applied Physics from Harvard University in 1972. He worked for two years at Bell Telephone Laboratories, and then became a professor of Applied Physics at Harvard. In 1979 he joined Exxon to do research on photovoltaic solar energy. Then in 1984, he joined Bell Communications Research, where he was a Distinguished Member of Staff, and also Director of Solid-State Physics Research. In 1992 he joined the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was the Northrop-Grumman Chair Professor of Electrical Engineering. Then in 2007 he became Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley, where he is the James & Katherine Lau Chair in Engineering.