BIST Colloquium Series 2020-21: Georgia Theano Papadakis

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From heat to light and energy

by Georgia Theano Papadakis of Stanford University (California, USA)


Understanding and tailoring light-matter interactions in the nanoscale lies at the heart of modern solid-state technologies, ranging from imaging and spectroscopy, to renewable energy. Advances in nanophotonics find significant impact in the control of the flow of heat in the form of thermal radiation. In this talk, I will discuss how nanoscale photonic engineering can yield radiative heat transfer that significantly exceeds the blackbody limit. This effect holds promise for ultra-efficient heat-to-electricity conversion with thermophotovoltaic systems. These systems are promising solid-state and carbon-free alternatives to bulky heat engines and to relatively inefficient thermoelectrics.

I will outline the principles of detailed balance analysis that help us understand thermophotovoltaic energy conversion, along with recent records in the field of thermophotovoltaics. Finally, I will discuss how thermophotovoltaic systems can operate with high conversion efficiency and extracted electrical power density at low-temperatures (<1000 K), making them relevant for low-grade waste heat recovery.


Georgia earned her BS and MS degrees from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, in Electrical and Computer Engineering. After spending a year at CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland, where she worked on radio-frequency particle accelerators, she moved to California, USA. Georgia earned her PhD in 2018 from the California Institute of Technology, where she worked on the design of artificially composed media with properties beyond natural availability, called metamaterials, as well as the interaction of light with novel materials like graphene and two-dimensional semiconductors. After her PhD, Georgia joined Stanford University as a TomKat Postdoctoral Fellow in Sustainable Energy. Her work at Stanford focuses on radiative heat transfer in the near-field, pertaining to length scales in the nanometer-range. In this range, thermally excited photons carry large amounts of thermal power density, thus creating new opportunities in optical and thermal engineering. Georgia will join ICFO as a Junior Group Leader in 2021. At ICFO, she will lead a program that aims to tailor thermal radiation using nanophotonics, with applications ranging from renewable energy and heat management to spectroscopy, lighting and sensing.

Georgia is the recipient of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Postdoctoral Fellowship, the TomKat Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.


Speaker invited by ICFO

The colloquium is part of the BIST Master of Research curriculum but is also open and free for anyone interested in participating.


Register now
The session will be hosted through Zoom online conference application. If you have not used this platform previously, you will be prompted to download the software to access the meeting (the process is automatic and does not require more than one minute).


Next colloquium will be:


November 16 – Rogério Rosenfeld of Universidade Estadual Paulista