Powering Electronics with Light


Date Thursday February 16th 2006
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium

PARC Forum

Led by Dr. Jan-Gustav Werthen, JDSU is pioneering the development of Photonic Power for the delivery of electricity over fiber optic cable. Photonic Power is an inventive power delivery system whereby light from a laser source illuminates a highly efficient photovoltaic power converter to produce electrical power. Photonic Power can power electronic circuitry in a wide variety of industries without the need for copper or coaxial cable, batteries, transformers or solar panels, paving the way for remote power delivery with 100 percent electrical isolation. Photonic Power delivers isolated power that is immune to RF, EMI, high voltage and lightning. Photonic Power technology can be leveraged across multiple markets, including medical, wireless communications, electrical power, industrial sensor, and aerospace applications. More than 10,000 units have been deployed to date, serving more than 50 customers, including Siemens, Raytheon, ETS Lindgren, and NEC.

Dr. Werthen will give an overview of this technology and offer insights into potential uses. Dr. Werthen has shepherded Photonic Power from a nascent idea to a potentially disruptive innovation that is now backed by the strength of a billion dollar company. His talk will include a look back at that process, including steps leading up to the acquisition of his company by JDSU in June, 2005.


Jan Werthen is Director of Engineering for JDSU's Photonic Power business. Werthen is recognized as a leader in the design of photovoltaic power devices with more than 20 years of optoelectronic design experience. Werthen began his professional career at Xerox's famed Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the laser diode group that later became SDL. At Varian Associates, Werthen established a world-renowned semiconductor device group. Over six years, he grew this group into a potent and well-recognized solar cell team, setting numerous world records in solar cell conversion efficiency. In 1991, Werthen helped engineer the sale of this group to Kopin Corporation. In association with this transaction, Werthen acquired a small piece of technology around the so-called photovoltaic power converter, a core device in optically powered applications. Beginning in 1992, Werthen grew his start-up company, Photonic Power Systems, Inc., into a world-recognized entity serving a variety of applications in the medical, electric power, sensor and wireless markets. Photonic Power Systems was acquired by JDSU in 2005 and is, at present, the only commercial provider of power over optical fiber. Werthen is author or co-author of more than 50 technical papers on photovoltaic devices.

Werthen earned his M.S. degree in Applied Physics from Chalmers Institute of Technology in Goteborg, Sweden, and a second M.S. degree and a Ph.D. in Materials Science from Stanford University.

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