Despite anticipated advances in these new sources of energy, it remains unlikely that
fossil fuel powered power plants will be eliminated anytime soon, leaving environmental
challenges for scientists and engineers to address. Minimizing the adverse effects of
carbon dioxide released during the combustion of fossil fuels is a challenge that can be
addressed by exploring and studying new combustion processes that involve new fuels or
that can ease carbon dioxide sequestration. Lasers can serve as advanced diagnostic
tools for the development of new and cleaner combustion processes. Another environmental
concern deals with the concentration of nitrogen in the atmosphere which is critical for
the growth of plants and which is being impacted by human activity. Monitoring nitrogen
levels in the atmosphere using spectroscopic techniques is critical to sustain adequate
food supplies. From making solar energy economical to providing energy from fusion, to
developing carbon sequestration methods, to managing the nitrogen cycle, in all these
grant challenges optics is poised to play a central role.
In other areas of technology, optics can lead to significant energy savings. For
instance, solid-state lighting is undergoing transformative changes because of recent
advances in the growth of compound semiconductors such as InGaN/GaN and the synthesis of
organic semiconductors. Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) have already reached
internal quantum efficiencies near 100% in the green, shifting the focus from material
optimization to light extraction, an area where optical solutions will make a
difference. With laboratory efficacies larger than 100 lm/W, both inorganic
light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and OLEDs have surpassed in performance conventional light
sources such as incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps, and are competing directly
with large fluorescent tubes. Recent laboratory results suggest that values beyond 150
lm/W are within reach.
Instead of launching a new stand alone journal, we decided that Energy
Express would start as a Supplement to Optics Express the
leading open-source publication in optics. Its Editor-in-Chief, Martijn de Sterke (Univ.
of Sydney), showed full support for this initiative since day one, and I want to take
this opportunity to sincerely thank him for his energy and his leadership. I also extend
my thanks to all the staff of Optics Express and its Associate Editors.
This first issue of Energy Express could not have been possible without
the relentless help of all the staff coordinating OSA’s publications, and I want
to express my gratitude to them as well.
To highlight the importance of optics in Energy, Energy Express will
publish a series of Focus Issues dedicated to selected research areas. With this
inaugural issue of the Supplement, we have included a first focus issue on Solar
Concentrators for which Roland Winston (Univ. of California Merced) has agreed to serve
as Guest Editor. Coordinating such a focus issue is a daunting task that takes a lot of
dedication. I hope that the readers of Energy Express will appreciate
this comprehensive overview of the field. Accepting to coordinate such focus issues
represents a great service to OSA and I want to express my special thanks to Roland
Winston for his hard work and for accepting to serve as Associate Editor.
Atlanta, April 17, 2010