Physicist Dr. Jim Gates makes an appearance in a 30-second TV commercial for TurboTax 2016.

According to the ad, “It doesn’t take a genius to do your taxes. More specifically, it doesn’t take a world-renowned string theorist on the verge of discovering computer codes writ into the very fabric of the universe.”

Baratunde Cola and his research team use nanometer-scale components to demonstrate the first optical rectenna, a device that combines the functions of an antenna and a rectifier diode to convert light directly into DC current.

Based on multiwall carbon nanotubes and tiny rectifiers fabricated onto them, the optical rectennas could provide a new technology for photodetectors that would operate without the need for cooling, energy harvesters that would convert waste heat to electricity – and ultimately for a new way to efficiently capture solar energy.

“We could ultimately make solar cells that are twice as efficient at a cost that is ten times lower, and that is to me an opportunity to change the world in a very big way” said Dr. Cola. “As a robust, high-temperature detector, these rectennas could be a completely disruptive technology if we can get to one percent efficiency. If we can get to higher efficiencies, we could apply it to energy conversion technologies and solar energy capture.”


Ainissa Ramirez and her work were featured on a segment of NPR’s “All Things Considered”: 

This Teacher Wants To Excite Your Inner Scientist

Imagine a space shuttle speeding toward Earth at 17,500 miles per hour, the friction outside heating the vessel up to more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it enters the atmosphere.

Those kind of temperatures normally melt metal. So what protects NASA’s space shuttles?

That’s just the kind of question award-winning scientist Ainissa Ramirez can’t wait to answer. In fact, she’s done it in this YouTube video. Hint: It involves sand.

“I always target everyone’s inner smart 12-year-old,” says Ramirez, who has a gift for explaining complicated science to people like you and me.

She’s got patents and has written dozens of technical papers, but her ability to simplify is what makes Ramirez a great teacher. And as a self-described science evangelist, she’s trying to reach the world by writing books, giving TED Talks and producing online videos to explain scientific concepts.

She’s jumping on the podcast bandwagon too, with a new show called Science Underground.





Ainissa Ramirez: 2015 AIP Gemant Award

Ainissa Ramirez is the winner of the 2015 Andrew Gemant Award from the American Institute of Physics (AIP).  The annual prize recognizes significant contributions to the cultural, artistic or humanistic dimension of physics. It includes $5,000 in cash and a grant of $3,000 to further public communication of physics at an institution of the winner’s choice.Ramirez is honored for reaching diverse audiences through her lectures, videos, and books.”Ramirez is both a standout scientist and a stellar communicator,” says Catherine O’Riordan, vice president of Physics Resources at AIP. “Her tireless commitment to sharing the thrill of discovery is helping change public perceptions of science and excite a new generation of future scientists.”