Eicke R. Weber
a global leader in solar energy research, has been appointed director and chief executive officer of BEARS, the Berkeley Education Alliance for Research in Singapore, effective January 2017. Weber has returned to UC Berkeley after 10 years as director of the University of Freiburg’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, the largest solar energy research institute in Europe.
From 1983 to 2006, Weber served on the faculty of the department of materials science and engineering in Berkeley’s College of Engineering; he is now professor emeritus. In his research, he analyzes defects in semiconductor materials to improve their performance. Recent research focuses on producing high-quality solar cells from upgraded metallurgical silicon, without the use of chlorine-based chemicals.
BEARS, headquartered at the CREATE research institute in Singapore, was launched in 2011 in partnership with the Singapore National Research Foundation. It serves as a home for Berkeley faculty collaborating with Singapore colleagues on research, graduate education and technological innovation in areas of mutual relevance to the U.S. and Singapore.
Currently, BEARS pursues innovation in renewable energy and energy efficiency through two multidisciplinary and multimillion-dollar programs, SinBeRISE and and SinBerBEST.
“I think BEARS with its two programs, SinBeRISE and SinBerBEST, is a very exciting venture, offering Berkeley faculty many opportunities for joint research with colleagues in Singapore at Asia’s premier academic institutions,” said Weber. These institutions include the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University. “With our academic, corporate and governmental partners, we can conduct leading-edge research nurturing innovative start-ups in a very supportive environment.”
SinBeRISE, the Singapore-Berkeley Research Initiative for Sustainable Energy, led by professor Connie Chang-Hasnain of Berkeley Engineering’s EECS faculty, focuses on the supply side of the energy equation. SinBeRISE seeks to boost the efficient conversion of solar energy into electricity and prepare renewable energy technologies for low-cost manufacturing.
On the demand side is SinBerBEST, Singapore-Berkeley Building Efficiency and Sustainability in the Tropics, led by Costas Spanos, professor of EECS in Berkeley Engineering and director of UC’s CITRIS and the Banatao Institute. SinBerBEST pursues research in energy-efficient and sustainable technologies for buildings located in the tropics, as well as for economic development.
Weber is familiar with BEARS, having served as co-chair of the SinBeRISE scientific advisory board.
He received a 1976 doctorate in physics and a 1983 post-doctoral qualification from the University of Cologne. After research positions in North America and Sweden, he joined Berkeley Engineering’s MSE department in 1983. In 2004, he was named chairman of Berkeley’s interdisciplinary Nanoscale Science and Engineering Graduate Group.
Weber was elected founding president of the Berkeley chapter of the Alexander von Humboldt Association of America and served as president from 2001–03. In 1994, he received the Alexander von Humboldt Prize and in 2006 the Award of Merit of the German President. In 2009, he was honored by the San Francisco chapter of the Electrochemical Society with the Electronics and Photonics Division Award.
He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of acatech, the German Academy of Science and Engineering. In 2013, Weber was honored with the SolarWorld Einstein Award. In 2014, he received the Zayed Future Energy Prize, endowed with 1.5 million U.S. dollars, from the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi on behalf of Fraunhofer ISE.
Weber succeeds Masayoshi Tomizuka, professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean for academic affairs at Berkeley Engineering, as BEARS director and CEO. In his two years at the helm of BEARS, Tomizuka advanced its research agenda and strengthened relationships with academic, governmental and industrial partners. Rounding out the BEARS leadership team is executive director and chief operating officer Julie Stein.