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Brian Wheelwright wins 2014 Michael Kidger Memorial Scholarship in Optical Design

22 April 2014

Brian WheelwrightSPIE Member Brian Wheelwright has been announced the winner of the 2014 Michael Kidger Memorial Scholarship in Optical Design. Wheelwright is a third-year Ph.D. student at the College of Optical Sciences, University of Arizona (OSC). He is a graduate research associate in the Steward Observatory Solar Lab, which performs research in the field of concentrating photovoltaics (CPV).

The award, which includes a $5,000 prize, will be presented in June by SPIE Fellow Kevin Thompson of the Synopsys Optical Solutions Group  at the International Optical Design Conference. The scholarship is supported by the Michael Kidger Memorial Scholarship Fund with additional support in 2014 from Qioptiq, in memory of optical designer David Lingwood. Qioptiq is an SPIE Corporate Member.

His research seeks to reduce the cost of solar electricity through optical innovation. He has designed and fabricated a freeform lens which intercepts the low-concentration line focus from a parabolic trough reflector to produce multiple high concentration foci. These regions of high concentration drive triple-junction solar cells.

Currently, he is investigating ways to reduce the cost of solar tracking by performing integrated tracking of the freeform elements. When the freeform optics are allowed this additional degree of freedom, it is possible to achieve high concentration while only tracking the parabolic trough about a single axis.

Wheelwright has a B.S. in Optical Engineering from the University of Arizona, where he graduated as valedictorian. After working in industry for a year, he returned to OSC to pursue a Ph.D., and was awarded an SPIE scholarship in 2013.