Eli Yablonovitch is Director of the NSF Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S), a multi-University Center based at Berkeley.
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.
Prof. Yablonovitch is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, the IEEE, and the American Physical Society. He was elected a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and as Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London. He has 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 for the following: Ethertronics, Inc., Luxtera, Inc., Luminescent, Inc., and Alta Devices, Inc.
In his photovoltaic research, Yablonovitch introduced the 4n2 light-trapping factor that is in worldwide use, for almost all commercial solar panels. This factor increased the theoretical limits and practical efficiency of solar cells. 4n2 is based on statistical mechanics, and is sometimes called the “Yablonovitch Limit”.
Yablonovitch introduced the idea that strained semiconductor lasers could have superior performance due to reduced valence band (hole) effective mass. Today, almost all semiconductor lasers use this concept, including for optical telecommunications, in most mouse-clicks, for DVD players, and in the ubiquitous red laser pointers.
Yablonovitch is regarded as one of the Fathers of the Photonic Bandgap concept, and coined the term “Photonic Crystal”. The geometrical structure of the first experimentally realized Photonic bandgap, is sometimes called “Yablonovite”.