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UC Merced's Nonimaging Optics Lab Receives $2 Million Gift

March 25, 2008

Donation will expand the university’s work in clean,
renewable energy

MERCED - The University of California, Merced, has received a $2
million gift from the California Community Foundation (CCF) to
support the university’s Nonimaging Optics (NIO) Lab, a facility
developing new technologies that are improving the potential for
solar resources to supply a substantial fraction of the world’s
energy needs.

“UC Merced is proud to be a leader in solar concentration
research, and this magnificent gift will solidify that position,”
said Dean Jeff Wright of the School of Engineering. “Our Nonimaging
Optics Lab has already gained worldwide recognition as a leader in
this field, and this funding will enable even more rapid innovation.”

Nonimaging optics is concerned with collecting, concentrating,
transporting and distributing light energy in applications such as
solar energy, signal detection, illumination optics, and
measurement and testing. Nonimaging optics can concentrate sunlight
to extremely high levels with greatly improved operational
efficiencies over traditional designs. This research will enable
more effective solar energy generation technologies in the future.

UC Merced’s NIO Lab - a cornerstone of the planned Merced Energy
Research Institute - is the brainchild of Professor Roland Winston,
a world-renowned physicist and the founder of the field of
nonimaging optics. Winston and his team of researchers are
engineering new concentrator designs that will make solar energy
more efficient and more affordable to implement, which may benefit
California and ultimately serve the entire world in search of
clean, renewable energy.

The gift from CCF, a Los Angeles-based philanthropic
organization, recognizes the contributions that Winston and UC
Merced’s NIO Lab have made and continue to make to the solar energy
industry. It will serve as a catalyst for numerous NIO Lab research
projects by providing research infrastructure, student support and
international linkages with the top energy engineers and scientists
around the world.

“Our lab is very grateful that CCF has recognized the potential
of nonimaging optics to help alleviate global energy woes,” Winston
said. “The support provided by such a large gift will enable us to
move forward rapidly with new energy innovation in the coming years
and will empower us to train the next generation of students in
nonimaging optics.”

Winston, working with students and colleagues, has applied the
field of nonimaging optics to a variety of problems in radiation
detection, illumination and solar energy concentration.

“Professor Roland Winston was recruited to UC Merced to create a
world class program in solar energy,” said Maria Pallavicini, dean
of the School of Natural Sciences. “Not only is he developing
innovative approaches for solar concentration, but he is training
the next generation of researchers in nonimaging optics. This
generous gift from the CCF will ensure that the legacy Professor
Winston has begun will continue.”

“Dr. Winston is absolutely committed to energy innovation and
educating technical leaders to shape our energy future,” Wright
said. “We are so fortunate to have such visionary scholars and
educators at this exciting new university.”

Winston is jointly appointed in the schools of Natural Science
and Engineering at UC Merced. He joined UC Merced as a founding
faculty member in 2003 and holds the UC Presidential Endowed Chair.