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May 4th, 2007
Metamaterials Meet Harry Potter
Professor Sir John Pendry is a world-renowned condensed matter theorist. He has worked at the Blackett Laboratory in the Imperial College London since 1981. Pendry has worked extensively on the electronic and structural properties of surfaces, developing the theory of low-energy diffraction and of electronic surface states.
In 1992, he turned his attention to photonic materials and developed some of the first computer codes capable of handling these novel materials. This interest led to his present research, which concerns the remarkable electromagnetic properties of materials where the normal response to electromagnetic fields is reversed, leading to negative values for the refractive index. In collaboration with scientists at The Marconi Company (whose remaining assets were recently sold to Ericsson (nasdaq: ERIC - news - people )), Pendry designed a series of "metamaterials" whose properties owed more to their microstructure than to the constituent materials. These made accessible completely novel materials with properties not found in nature.
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