Harnessing light and sound with metamaterials to advance technology and address grand societal challenges

Dr Andrea Alù is a Partner Investigator in TMOS and is based at the City University of New York, USA, where he is the Founding Director of its Advanced Science Research Center. He is also Einstein Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, Professor of Electrical Engineering at the City College of New York, and Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. He received the Laurea, MS and PhD degrees from the University of Roma Tre, Rome, Italy, respectively in 2001, 2003 and 2007.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Roma, Italy.

Were you always interested in your current field?

I have been always attracted by science and math, and became interested in electromagnetism and wave physics during my university studies in electrical engineering. It was an interesting field for me from the start because it combines physics and math challenging problems with important technological implications.

Are you working from home or in the office? What’s it like?

At the moment I am working mostly from home, due to the COVID pandemic, but in steady state I work in my office at the Advanced Science Research Center, a beautiful building in Manhattan with state-of-the-art facilities for electromagnetics and photonics research.

What projects are you working on?

Our group has a wide range of interests all broadly related to pushing the boundaries of extreme interactions between waves and materials. We work on engineered materials and metamaterials for a wide range of nanophotonic, THz, mm-wave and acoustic applications.

Why did you join TMOS, and what are your goals for it?

I am excited to collaborate with a strong research theme that has similar goals and objectives in research.

What do you want people to know about your research?

Our research has the ultimate goal of addressing big societal challenges, such as energy harvesting, efficient computing, and enhanced wireless communications.

Why do you enjoy it?

It is great to work with great students and postdocs, and collaborate with academic colleagues, companies and foundations, to push the envelope of technology for next-generation devices that have been improving society at large. And at the same time educate the next generation of scientists in a thriving field of interdisciplinary research.

Andrea is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, AAAS, IEEE, OSA, APS and SPIE, a Highly Cited Researcher since 2017, a five-times Blavatnik awardee and a Simons Investigator in Physics, a Distinguished Lecturer for IEEE AP-S and OSA. He has received several awards for his scientific work, including the IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu Award (2020), the NSF Alan T. Waterman Award (2015), the Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship from DoD (2019), the ICO Prize in Optics (2016), the OSA Adolph Lomb Medal (2013), and the URSI Issac Koga Gold Medal (2011).

You can watch his TEDx video here!

Author: Paris Lord, Communications and Outreach Manager, ANU Energy Change Institute