Marin Soljačić

2014 National Award Winner — Faculty

Marin Soljačić

Current Position:
Professor of Physics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Condensed Matter Physics

Recognized for: Numerous discoveries of novel phenomena related to the interaction of light and matter, and his work on wireless power transfer technology

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Nonlinear optics, Nanophotonics, Wireless power transfer

Marin Soljačić


PhD, Physics, Princeton University
BSE, Physics, BSE, Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Technological advances of the past decade have enabled the control of the material structure at length-scales smaller than the wavelength of light. This enabled creation of new effective materials, whose optical properties are dramatically different from those of any naturally occurring material.  Dr. Soljačić’s research interests are in exploring the new and exciting physical phenomena arising in these materials. . For example, his group demonstrated world’s first truly one-way waveguides (a photonic analogue of Quantum Hall Effect in electronics), demonstrated a unique way of trapping light, novel transparent displays, as well as systems that enable supreme angular selectivity of light.

Dr. Soljačić’s group is also interested in various topics in nonlinear optical physics. Maxwell's equations, which describe behavior of light, as presented in most undergraduate text books are linear.  However, all materials in nature are nonlinear, and sure enough, at high light intensities, optical phenomena also become nonlinear, displaying a wide range of rich and beautiful behavior. For example, Dr. Soljačić’s group discovered novel optical incarnations of almost every general non-linear dynamics phenomenon (e.g., solitons, fractals, pattern formation, etc.), as well as a new type of nonlinearities at energy levels as low as single photons.

In addition, Dr. Soljačić is excited about the feasibility of wireless power transfer.

“For me (and most of my colleagues), being a scientist is the greatest fun around. The Blavatnik Award is a great honor: it confirms that what I do is also very important to society in general. It is an amazing privilege to do something so much fun, yet so useful. The Blavatnik Award is also a recognition that my way of doing things is effective: it will give me further encouragement to work on even bolder ideas in the future.” 

Key Publications:

  1. Optical Broadband Angular Selectivity. Y. Shen, D. Ye, I. Celanovic, S G. Johnson, J.D. Joannopoulos, and Marin Soljacic. Science. 2014.
  2. Observation of trapped light within the radiation continuum. Chia Wei Hsu, Bo Zhen, Jeongwon Lee, Song-Liang Chua, Steven G. Johnson, J.D.Joannopoulos, and Marin Soljacic. Nature. 2013.
  3. Observation of unidirectional backscattering-immune topological electromagnetic states. Zheng Wang, Yidong Chong, J.D.Joannopoulos, and Marin Soljacic. Nature, 2009.
  4. Wireless Power Transfer via Strongly Coupled Magnetic Resonances. Andre Kurs, Aristeidis Karalis, Robert Moffatt, J.D.Joannopoulos, Peter Fisher, and Marin Soljacic. Science. 2007.

Other Honors:

Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum
MacArthur Fellowship Award
TR35 Award of the Technology Review: one of top 35 innovators under the age of 35
Adolph Lomb Medal of the Optical Society of America

In the Media:

Light-bulb moment. The Economist. Jan 16th 2016
Announcing Launch of the New Prize for Gifted Croatian Children. NYAS. Sept. 16, 2014
SiriusXM interview with 2014 Blavatnik National Laureates Rachel Wilson, Marin Soljačić, and Adam Cohen. Sept. 17, 2014
WiTricity's wireless charging technology is coming soon to mobile devices, electric cars, and more. Jul 10, 2014
Vanishing mirror turns into a window as you spin it. New Scientist, April, 2014
Stick-on screens open up a new vista for window projections. BBC News, January, 2014
Automatic Recharging, From a Distance. New York Times, March 11, 2012
Crystal is one-way street for microwaves. New Scientist, October 12, 2009
MIT powers a lightbulb without wires. USA Today, June 9, 2007