Prof. Albert Polman is Scientific Group Leader at AMOLF, one of the research institutes of the Dutch research counsel (NWO) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he heads the Program Light management in new photovoltaic materials. He is professor of Photonic Materials for Photovoltaics at the University of Amsterdam. Polman obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Utrecht, was post-doctoral researcher at AT&T Bell Laboratories, after which he became group leader at AMOLF where he also served as director from 2006-2013. He spent a sabbaticals at Caltech (Pasadena, CA, 2003-2004) and the University of New South Wales (Sydney, 2017-2018).
Polman is one of the early pioneers of the research field of nanophotonics, a highly active research area worldwide. Polman’s research group focuses on the study of fundamental light-matter interactions at the nanoscale. He studies light management to realize solar cells with ultra-high efficiency that can be made at low costs, develops optical metasurfaces for analog optical processing, and develops cathodoluminescence spectroscopy as a nanoscale imaging and spectroscopy technique.
Polman has published over 350 papers that were cited nearly 40.000 times. He is member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Netherlands Academy of Engineering (NAE). He has won several awards for his work, including the ENI Renewable Energy Award (with Harry Atwater), the Science of Light Prize of the European Physical Society, the MRS Materials Characterization Award, the Physica prize of the Dutch Physical Society, and the Julius Springer Prize in Applied Physics. He was highly cited researcher in 2017-2019, was awarded three ERC Advanced Grants (2011, 2016, 2021) and has given over 200 keynote and invited talks at international conferences and workshops.
Polman is co-founder of Delmic BV that has developed the instrument for cathodoluminescence spectroscopy that was developed in his group to a successful commercial product. He co-initiated the national MaterialsNL program that led to the funding by the National Growth fund of four major materials programs with a total subsidy of 950 M€. Polman leads the Dutch national research, innovation and industrial development program SolarNL (www.solarnl.eu, 898 million euro) to build up and strengthen the photovoltaics industry in the Netherlands and Europe.
As program leader of the LMPV program at AMOLF Polman has co-educated over 160 PhD students, postdocs and master students, many of which have found a job in the sustainability field. An independent impact analysis by Roland Berger shows that inventions by the LMPV program are starting to make impact in the energy transition, sustainability, and presently add over 10 M€ annually to the Dutch economy. In 2023 the five LMPV group leaders won the NWO Team Science Award.
Albert Polman is married to the musicologist Dr. Philomeen Lelieveldt; they have two children, Philine and Fabian.