Ognjen Ilic

Ognjen Ilic

Ognjen Ilic

Benjamin Mayhugh Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering
Room 215
111 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Graduate Faculty Member: Electrical and Computer Engineering, School of Physics and Astronomy


Postdoctoral Research Associate, 2016-2019, Department of Applied Physics and Material Science, California Institute of Technology
Ph.D. 2015, Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A.B. 2009, Physics, Harvard University


Laboratory for Nano Optics & Mechanics — ME 373

ME Research Areas
Thermodynamics & Heat Transfer
Materials & Mechanics

ME Impact Areas
Energy Transition
Environment & Sustainability
Next-Gen Manufacturing

Research Interests
  • Heat transfer and radiative energy harvesting and storage
  • Light-matter interactions in nanoscale devices and materials
  • Photonic and acoustic materials
  • Metamaterial wave mechanics and robotics
  • Thermal-Infrared optics and photonics

Honors and Awards

  • McKnight Land-Grant Professor
  • Air Force Young Investigator Program (AFOSR YIP) Award
  • 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award
  • Materials Research Society (MRS) Bulletin Prize

Selected Publications

  • M. Stein, S. Keller, Y. Luo, O. Ilic ”Shaping Contactless Radiation Forces Through Anomalous Acoustic Scattering,” Nature Communications 13, 6533 (2022).
  • O. Ilic and H. Atwater "Self-stabilizing photonic levitation and propulsion of nanostructured macroscopic objects," Nature Photonics, 13(4), p.289 (2019).
  • O. Ilic “Nanophotonic Materials for Space Applications,” MRS Bulletin, 45(9), 769 (2020).
  • Y. Shi, O. Ilic, H. Atwater, J. Greer “All-day Fresh Water Harvesting by Microstructured Hydrogel Membranes,” Nature Communications, 12, 2797 (2021).
  • O. Ilic, N. Thomas, T. Christensen, M. Sherrott, M. Soljačić, A. Minnich, O. Miller, and H. Atwater "Active radiative thermal switching with graphene plasmon resonators," ACS Nano, 12(3), p.2474 (2018).
  • O. Ilic, P. Bermel, G. Chen, J.D. Joannopoulos, I. Celanovic, M. Soljačić “Tailoring High Temperature Radiation and the Resurrection of the Incandescent Source,” Nature Nanotechnology, 11, 320-324 (2016).
  • H. Atwater, A. Davoyan, O. Ilic, D. Jariwala, M. Sherrott, C. Went, W. Whitney, J. Wong "Materials challenges for the Starshot lightsail," Nature Materials, 17, p.861 (2018).
  • O. Ilic, I. Kaminer, B. Zhen, O. Miller, H. Buljan, M. Soljačić "Topologically enabled optical nanomotors," Science Advances, 3(6), e1602738 (2017).

Publications list

Selected Press Coverage: 

  • “Ultrasound Waves Unlock Contactless Manipulation” ASME (2023).
  • “U of M study shows new way to move objects with sound waves rather than physical touch” KSTP Eyewitness News (2022)
  • “This Star Trek-style “Tractor Beam” allows objects to be moved using metamaterials and sound waves” The Debrief (2022).
  • “New Material Could Harvest Water All Day Long” Caltech News (2021).
  • “These bold engineering ideas could take humanity to the stars” Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), online feature article (2019).
  • “A light ride to the stars” Nature Photonics: News & Views (2019).
  • “Across the universe” editorial in Nature Materials (2018).
  • “The material science of building a light sail to take us to Alpha Centauri” Ars Technica (2018).
  • “Building sails for tiny interstellar probes will be tough, but not impossible” Scientific American (2018).
  • “Tiny motors are driven by light” MIT News (2017).
  • “Light-bulb moment: A bright idea to save a beloved technology from the dustbin” The Economist (2016).
  • “Graphene plasmonics: Ultra-tunable graphene light source” Nature Photonics: News & Views (2015).
  • “A new way to make X-rays” MIT News (2015).