Prof. Marc Baldo
Algorithms for Engineering System Design
Thin film optical coatings that modify reflection and transmission characteristics of lenses, solar cells, art glass and other optical components are projected to reach $10.2B/yr in sales by 2016 [BCC Research]. However, like many optical systems, the design of thin film optical interference coatings remains more art than science. The algorithms employed to develop optical coatings are heuristic and they cannot guarantee that their results are optimal. We have developed the first algorithm that can guarantee a global solution to an optical thin-film multilayer system design problem, by drawing on the branch-and-bound algorithmic framework. We are fine-tuning our software and algorithms to make them more feasible computationally and thereby more practical for wide scale adoption.
To demonstrate our capabilities, we have designed and fabricated an efficient (near-perfect) broadband omnidirectional antireflection coating for planar silicon solar cells. Several other design problems, spanning across the optical, electronic, and magnetic domains, are under investigation.