Andrea Alù

2021 National Award Winner — Faculty

Andrea Alù

Current Position:
Einstein Professor of Physics, Director of the Photonics Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center, Professor of Electrical Engineering

Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)

Electrical Engineering

Recognized for: Andrea Alù is challenging the limits of material science, influencing a wide range of engineering applications in electromagnetics, nano-optics, and acoustics. By tailoring the interactions of electromagnetic and acoustic waves with artificial materials, Alù is demonstrating, both theoretically and experimentally, how cleverly-designed nanostructured meta-materials can push the boundaries of physics. His work is leading to new and enhanced materials technologies with potential applications in cellular communications, energy harvesting, radar cloaking, optical computing, nano-optics, and more.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Meta-materials, Photonics, Nano-optics, Acoustics, Quantum Technology

Previous Positions:

Senior Research Scientist, Adjunct Professor, University of Texas at Austin (current)
Full Professor, Temple Foundation Endowed Professor, University of Texas at Austin
Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) Visiting Professor, AMOLF Institute
Associate Professor, Cockrell Family Dean’s Chair in Engineering Excellence Fellow, University of Texas at Austin
Assistant Professor, D.D. Lybarger Endowed Faculty Fellow, University of Texas at Austin
PhD in Electronic Engineering, University of Roma Tre
MS Environmental Engineering and Economics, University of Roma Tre
MS & BS Electronic Engineering (magna cum laude), University of Roma Tre

Research Summary:

Andrea Alù, PhD, is overcoming the limitations of modern technology in ways previously unimaginable only a few years ago by using artificial materials to control and manipulate the properties of waves. His work is already influencing a wide range of engineering applications in electromagnetics, nano-optics, acoustics, and quantum technology. The artificial materials created in his lab, known as meta-materials, are blurring the boundaries between physics, engineering, and materials science. Meta-materials are materials with nanoscale structures and properties that are designed to manipulate electromagnetic, acoustic and light waves in unusual ways and produce unprecedented behaviors in light, sound, and heat. Alù has discovered that a fundamental property in wave propagation, called reciprocity—which states that waves transmit energy equally when traveling in opposite directions—can be broken by applying tailored mechanical motion to a well-designed set of meta-materials. He developed a first-of-its-kind device that can make sound travel in only one direction and has extended this concept to radio-waves and light, opening the door to new technological opportunities in wireless communications, bio-medical imaging, sonar, emerging automotive technologies, and more.

Alù has made a number of other equally-important technological breakthroughs, including topologically-inspired meta-materials and quantum meta-materials. These meta-materials display enhanced light-matter interactions, offering new opportunities for optical computing technologies. In addition, Alù is well-known for his exciting work on cloaking technologies and has shown that meta-materials can be used to suppress the visibility of large objects to radio-waves. His research is truly expanding the boundaries of engineered materials and showcasing their potential for technological application.

This fantastic recognition represents a great honor for me and my research group, and a unique encouragement to continue pursuing our curiosity-driven research into the exciting opportunities enabled by engineered materials and meta-materials.

Key Publications:

  1. R. Fleury, D.L. Sounas, C.F. Sieck, M.R. Haberman, Andrea Alù, Sound Isolation and Giant Linear Nonreciprocity in a Compact Acoustic Circulator, Science, 2014.

  2. G. Hu, Q. Ou, G. Si, Y. Wu, J. Wu, Z. Dai, A. Krasnok, Y. Mazor, Q. Zhang, Q. Bao, C.W. Qiu, Andrea Alù, Topological polaritons and photonic magic angles in twisted α-MoO3 bilayers, Nature, 2020.

  3. C. Coulais, D. Sounas, Andrea Alù, Static non-reciprocity in mechanical metamaterials, Nature, 2017.

  4. D.L. Sounas, J. Soric, Andrea Alù, Broadband passive isolators based on coupled nonlinear resonances, Nature Electronics, 2018.

Other Honors:

2021 AAAFM-Heeger Award, American Association for Advances in Functional Materials
2021 Dan Maydan Prize in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
2020 IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu Award, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
2019 AAAS Fellowship, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2019 Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship, U.S. Department of Defense
2016 ICO Prize in Optics, International Commission for Optics
2016 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Engineering, The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas
2015 National Science Foundation Alan T. Waterman Award
2013 OSA Adolph Lomb Medal
2011 International Union of Radio Science Issac Koga Gold Medal

In the Media:

Physics - Customizing Thermal Emission

Physics World - Twistronics for Photons’ Brings Tunable Diffraction-Free Light Rays

Newsweek - Scientists Have Come Up With a Way to Store and Release Mechanical Waves With No Energy Loss

PBS SciTech Now – Episode 532: The Possibility of the Invisibility Cloak with CUNY professor Andrea Alu

Physics World - Blocking the Symmetry of Motion

Physics - Bang a Gong

Physics Today - A Nonreciprocal Antenna Speaks Without Listening

NBC News - Spies, Take Note: Scientists Create One-Way Sound Machine

Live Science - Spy Device? One-Way Sound Machine Created