Robotics Colloquium: Guest Speaker Ognjen Ilic
Title: Metamaterials in Motion: Manipulating the Energy and the Momentum of Waves at the Subwavelength Scale
Abstract: The transport of waves, such as light and sound, can be radically transformed when waves interact with metamaterial structures with engineered subwavelength features. My group aims to
understand and develop electromagnetic and acoustic metamaterials that can control wave-matter interactions in ways that are impossible with conventional materials. In the first part of my talk, I will present our work on acousto-mechanical metamaterials that can steer ultrasonic waves for contactless and programmable actuation. This versatile concept enables new actuation functions, including autonomous path following and contactless tractor beaming, that are made possible by anomalous scattering and are beyond the limits of traditional wave-matter interactions. In the second part, I will discuss how the same ideas carry over naturally to optical systems. Light is a powerful tool to manipulate matter without contact, with concepts such as optical traps and tweezers widely used across biology and bioengineering to microfluidics and quantum sensing, but typically limited to small objects and short distances. In contrast, our approach to designing nanoscale elements to control the momentum of light could open new frontiers in optomechanics, such as macroscale optical levitation and long-range optical actuation. These concepts of nanoscale light-matter interactions could lead to ultralightweight and multi-functional structures and coatings with unique new terrestrial and space applications.
Bio: Ognjen Ilic is a Benjamin Mayhugh Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He completed his Ph.D. in physics at MIT and was a postdoctoral scholar in applied physics and materials science at Caltech. His research themes encompass light-matter and wave-matter interactions in nanoscale and metamaterial structures. He received the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Award, the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, the Bulletin Prize of the Materials Research Society, and a University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship. He holds graduate faculty appointments in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota.