Centre Member Profile

Willie John Padilla
Employer: Duke University
Centre Role: Partner Investigator
Job Title in TMOS: Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Research Interests:

- Metamaterials and metasurfaces, e.g. negative refractive index, absorbers, emitters, detectors

- Machine learning, e.g. deep learning and inverse design in photonics and metamaterials

- Imaging e.g. coded aperture, computational, and compressive sensing

- Spectroscopy, e.g. terahertz time domain, and Fourier transform

- Terahertz science and technology, e.g. spectroscopy, imaging, modulators, spatial light modulators, detectors


Ph.D., Physics, 2004, University of California San Diego


Willie John Padilla is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University. Willie received MS and PhD degrees in Physics from the University of California San Diego. His thesis work was for investigation of the THz, infrared, optical and magneto-optic properties of novel materials utilizing various spectroscopic methods, including Fourier transform spectroscopy and ellipsometry. Dr Padilla was an author on the “discovery” paper on “left-handed” or Negative Index (NI) materials, and the main contributor to demonstrating artificial magnetic response at THz frequencies. He was awarded a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellowship from Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2004. In 2006, he and colleagues demonstrated the first “all-electronic” control of metamaterials at terahertz frequencies, thus paving the way for the emergence of multifunctional and tunable metamaterials. Dr Padilla began his Professorship in 2006, became an Associate Professor with tenure in 2010, and was promoted to Full Professor in 2013.

Professor Padilla has more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, two book chapters and seven issued patents. In 2007 he was awarded a Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research and Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2011. In 2008 Prof. Padilla pioneered the metamaterial “perfect absorber” – which continues to be an active area of research worldwide. In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and a Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow in 2013. Dr Padilla was elevated to Senior Member of the SPIE in 2018 and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Professor Padilla is a Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher in the field of Physics in 2018 and 2019.

As a co-discoverer of metamaterials, Dr Padilla continues to be involved in their domestic and international development. He organized and hosted the International Workshop on Electromagnetic Metamaterials, held at Los Alamos National Laboratory in January 2006, in September 2007, and in May 2009. In 2015 he and colleagues organized and hosted the Metamaterials Science & Technology Workshop at the University of San Diego. Professor Padilla heads a group working in the area of artificially structured systems including electromagnetic metamaterials and metasurfaces, machine learning and deep learning, active/dynamic metamaterials, photonics, nano-materials, transformation optics, and negative index materials.