Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Nanoscience

John Pendry - Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Nanoscience

Sir John Pendry

Sunday, November 25
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm 
Sheraton Boston Hotel, 2nd Floor, Grand Ballroom 

Sir John Pendry
Imperial College London
(view biography)

Talk Presentation: Emphasizing the Negative
(view abstract)


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About the Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Nanoscience

The Kavli Foundation supports scientific research, honors scientific achievement, and promotes public understanding of scientists and their work. Its particular focuses are astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience. For more information about the Foundation, visit their website at 

Sir John Pendry Biography

Sir John Pendry is a condensed-matter theorist. He has worked at the Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, since 1981. He began his career in the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, followed by six years at the Daresbury Laboratory where he headed the Theoretical Group. His most recent work has been in the field of metamaterials and negative refraction. In collaboration with a team of scientists at Duke University, he has developed the concept of "transformation optics," which prescribes how electromagnetic lines of force can be manipulated at will. This enabled a proposed recipe for a cloak that can hide an arbitrary object from electromagnetic fields, and also has many applications at optical frequencies to the study of plasmonic systems.

Emphasizing the Negative

Nanoscience presents optics with a problem: We cannot see objects smaller than the wavelength using conventional optics. However, metals have an unusual property that allows us to get around this problem. When the electric field of a light beam pushes in one direction, the electrons in the metal move in the opposite direction giving a negative value to the permittivity. This gives rise to the phenomenon of surface plasmons; excitations on the metal surface that can be excited by light. This talk will discuss how light can be focused into length scales much smaller than the wavelength and explore the ultimate limits imposed by the metal. It turns out that a beam of light can be concentrated into less than a nanometer leading to intense interactions between the energy of the light and individual atoms and molecules.

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