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Solar scientist returning to UD faculty

Aug. 31, 2010--Michael W. Haney will be returning to his position as professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Delaware, effective July 1, 2010.

Since 2006, Haney has been on temporary assignment as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act. The act enables streamlined sharing of expertise and perspectives among the various sectors of government and academia through temporary assignment of skilled personnel.

Haney served as a program manager in DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office (MTO), where his program development work focused on emerging integrated photonics technologies.

At DARPA, Haney built and managed a large portfolio of programs specifically focused on the research and development of the emerging technology of photonic integrated circuits, a significant technology innovation in computer chip design that reduces space and power consumption while improving reliability. In addition to advancing PIC technology for energy-efficient networks and computer interconnects, Haney initiated efforts to extend the technology to high-efficiency solar cells and other photonics-based sensors.

“We look forward to having Prof. Haney back on the UD faculty,” says Michael Chajes, dean of the College of Engineering. “UD has a growing international reputation in solar power research, and Dr. Haney's significant contributions to this work, as well as his experience in research leadership, will be invaluable to the University as we move forward in photonics and related computational imaging fields.”

Haney's solar energy contributions began in 1995 when he was part of the team that won a $13-million grant from DARPA for the Very High Efficiency Solar Cell (VHESC) program. Haney and Michael McFadden, who earned his doctorate in electrical engineering under Haney's advisorship in 2005, were key co-authors of the original proposal to DARPA. One of the ideas presented in the proposal was an invention that involves a new way of using prisms within a concentrator to efficiently split the solar spectrum in the concentrator modules.

Haney and another of his doctoral students, Tian Gu, subsequently made additional contributions to the spectrum-splitting micro-optical concentrator concept, leading to at least two other inventive ideas. Specifically, Haney conceived of a new concept for “scavenging” light within the new tiled high-efficiency solar concentrator architecture that would otherwise be lost, thereby increasing the overall effectiveness of the solar cell module. Haney and Gu also proposed a new approach to reduce overall system complexity and cost by exploiting the transparency of photovoltaic cell elements to portions of the solar spectrum so that concentrator optics may be integrated with photovoltaic cells that are positioned on a common planar substrate.

Before joining UD in 2001, Haney was on the faculty at George Mason University. In 1998, he co-founded Applied Photonics, Inc., an optical engineering company that developed and demonstrated novel concepts in high-density optical interconnects. Earlier in his career, he held positions as director of photonics programs at BDM Corporation and group leader for electro- optic systems at General Dynamics.

Haney received his bachelor of science degree in 1976 from the University of Massachusetts in physics, his master's degree in 1978 from the University of Illinois in electrical engineering, and his doctorate in 1986 from the California Institute of Technology in electrical engineering. He has contributed to over 100 journal and conference publications and has several issued and pending patents. He is a fellow of the Optical Society of America.

Article by Diane Kukich