Why Andrea Alù Challenges the Limits of Nature

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Today’s guest is physicist and engineer Professor Andrea Alù, who joined the Advanced Science Research Center at the Graduate Center, CUNY as the founding director of the Photonics Initiative. He is also the Einstein Professor of Physics at the Graduate Center and a professor of Engineering at The City College of New York. Broadly recognized as a leading scientist in optics and photonics, Alù and his team are working to understand how metamaterials can be used to interact with electromagnetic and mechanical waves and force them to behave in unusual ways, opening the door to leapfrog advances in energy harvesting, data delivery, and medical treatment. Alù is the principal investigator for research projects supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, Simons Foundation, National Science Foundation, and several other major funders. He is the 2021 Blavatnik Award Laureate for his work in Physical Sciences and Engineering. Andrea Alù appears on The Thought Project podcast for the second time to talk about his breakthrough work and recent award. During this conversation, Alù discusses and describes his work in metamaterials and electromagnetic and mechanical waves. Metamaterials are built from the nanoscale up and engineered to interact in special ways with light, sound, and other wave types. These interactions can be fine-tuned to coax waves to propagate in a specific manner, maintain their intensity, or take on other desirable behaviors that are unusual. Alù’s research is leading to breakthroughs in many novel and existing technologies.

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