Bruce Wittmershaus, Ph.D.

Bruce Wittmershaus, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Physics
Office Phone
Office Location
117 Witkowski
ERIE PA 16563

Dr. Bruce Wittmershaus received his B.A. in physics in 1978 from Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA. He did his graduate work at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY under the guidance of Dr. Robert S. Knox. His PhD thesis was on mapping out the light-harvesting system of green plants using picosecond time-resolved fluorescence measurements. At Arizona State University, he did a two year postdoc in the Department of Chemistry, studying the light-harvesting system of chlorosome antennas in green photosynthetic bacteria. He then became manager of the ASU laser facility jointly run by the Physics and Chemistry Departments. In 1995, he become Assistant Professor of Physics at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001. His major research focus is on luminescent solar concentrators.

Teaching Specialties

General Physics

Research Interests

Our work on luminescent solar concentrators (LSC) is an interdisciplinary research project involving optics, nanotechnology, and solar energy conversion. Our primary objective is to use nanoparticles and dyes in LSCs and assess their performance in converting sunlight to electricity. A LSC is a thin, flat plate of highly fluorescent material that uses total internal reflection to concentrate light at its edges where it is converted to electricity by semiconductor solar cell material. The main advantage of the LSC is its cost. It acts as a cheap, non-directional, area collector of light by focusing 75% of the photons it absorbs down to a very small area of expensive semiconductor material. We are also interested in assessing the potential of these materials in other optical applications.

Funded Projects and Grants

  • RUI, GOALI: Multiple-Dye Luminescent Solar Concentrators - Extending Lifetime and Absorption. Wittmershaus, B.P. (principal investigator) and Y.Z. Zhang (co-principal investigator). National Science Foundation, Electronics, Photonics, and Device Technologies Program, September 2004-August 2008.
  • Multiple-Dye Fluorescent Microspheres and Films - A New Approach for Luminescent Solar Concentrators. Wittmershaus, B.P. (principal author) and Y.Z. Zhang, (co-principal author). National Science Foundation, Grant Opportunity for Academic Liaison with Industry, Research in Undergraduate Institutions, August 1999-July 2003.

Undergraduate participation in our lab to date:

46 Student Conference Abstracts and Presentations
36 Undergraduate Research Projects
41 Undergraduate Research Grants Awarded 
3 Undergraduate Honors Theses

Research Interests

Making solar energy collection more affordable and widespread; Improving the performance of Luminescent solar concentrators; Creating new, more fluorescent and photostable fluorescent materials; Improving the synthesis and optical properties of metal nanoparticles


Increasing the Area of a White Scattering Background can Increase the Power Output of a Luminescent Solar Concentrator, Solar Energy - August, 2018

Photodegradation in multiple-dye luminescent solar concentrators, Journal of Luminescence - June, 2013

Photo-stability and performance of CdSe/ZnS quantum dots in luminescent solar concentrators, Solar Energy - February, 2009

Optimized Excitation Energy Transfer in a Three-Dye Luminescent Solar Concentrator, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells - 2007

Soak and Dope: Diffusion of Dyes into Polymers Via Organic Solvents, Proceedings of ANTEC 2003 - 2003

Excitation Energy Transfer from Polystyrene to Dyes in 40-nm Diameter Microspheres, Journal of Luminescence - 2002

Spectral Properties of Single BODIPY© Dyes in Polystyrene Microspheres and in Solutions, Journal of Fluorescence - 2001

Spectral Resolution of Low-Energy Chlorophylls in Photosystem I of Synechocysis sp. PCC 6803 Through Direct Excitation, Photosynthesis Research - 1999

Efficient Excitation Energy Transfer in Six-Dye Polystyrene Microspheres., Journal of Luminescence - 1998

Fluorescence From Low-Energy Chlorophylls in Photosystem I of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 at Physiological Temperatures, Photosynthesis Research - 1998

Delayed Fluorescence from Fe-S Type Photosynthetic Reaction Centers at Low Redox Potential, Biochemistry - 1994

Resolution of Low-Energy Chlorophylls in Photosystem I of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 at 77 and 295 K through Fluorescence Excitation Anisotropy, Photosynthesis Research - 1994

Temperature Dependence and Polarization of Fluorescence from Photosystem I in the Cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, Photosynthesis Research - 1992

Energy Transfer Kinetics in Whole Cells and Isolated Chlorosomes of Green Photosynthetic Bacteria, Photosynthesis Research - 1990

Excitation Energy Flow in Chlorosome Antennas of Green Photosynthetic Bacteria, Journal of Physical Chemistry - 1989

Chlorosome Antennas in Green Photosynthetic Bacteria - 1988

Energy Transfer in Chloroflexus aurantiacus: Effects of Temperature and Anaerobic Conditions., Photosynthetic Light-Harvesting Systems: Organization and Function - 1988

Energy Trapping and Electron Transfer in Chloroflexus aurantiacus - 1988

Fluorescence Decay Kinetics and Characteristics of Biomolecular Exciton Annihilation in Chloroplasts, Photochemistry and Photobiology - 1988

Measurements and Kinetic Modeling of Picosecond Time-Resolved Fluorescence from Photosystem I and Chloroplasts. Chapter I.1, Photosynthesis Research - 1987

Picosecond Time-Resolved Fluorescence from Detergent-Free Photosystem I Particles, Biophysical Journal - 1987

Theory of Picosecond-Laser-Induced Fluorescence from Highly Excited Complexes with Small Numbers of Chromophores, Biophysical Journal - 1986

Picosecond Fluorescence of Cryptomonad Biliproteins, Effects of Excitation Intensity and the Fluorescence Decay Times of Phycocyanin 612, Phycocyanin 645, and Pycoerythrin 545, Biophysical Journal - 1985

Picosecond Studies at 77K of Energy Transfer in Chloroplasts at Low and High Excitation Intensities, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - 1985

Interpretation of Intensity-Dependent Chloroplast Fluorescence Yields, Photochemistry and Photobiology - 1984

Picosecond Fluorescence of Phycobiliproteins from Cryptomonads, Photochemistry and Photobiology - 1984

Time-Resolved Fluorescence from Detergent-Free Photosystem-I Particles at 77K, Photochemistry and Photobiology - 1984

Singlet Exciton Annihilation in the Picosecond Fluorescence Decay of 1,1'-diethyl-2,2'-cyanine Chloride Dye J-Aggregate, Journal of Luminescence - 1984

Intensity Dependence of Time-Resolved Chloroplast Fluorescence, Photochemistry and Photobiology - 1983

Hot Luminescence in Trans-Polyactylene: A Picosecond Time-Resolved Study, Physical Review B - 1983


Ph D, Physics, University of Rochester

BA, Physics, Franklin and Marshall College