MnRI Seminar: Ognjen Ilic

Opto-mechanics: A vision of long-range manipulation enabled by subwavelength metamaterials and metasurfaces

Light is a powerful tool to mechanically manipulate matter without contact, with tools such as optical traps and tweezers extensively used across biology and bioengineering, microfluidics and colloidal science, and even high-precision and quantum sensing. This extraordinary versatility was recognized by the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics, yet existing manipulation techniques only work for very small objects, typically nano/micro in size, and only at short ranges.

These are fundamental constraints inherent in the need to tightly focus energy to stabilize an object.

To overcome these limitations, is it possible for the stabilizing potential to be self- created by the object and not by the incident beam? In this talk, I will discuss our approach to engineer artificial materials with subwavelength structure—i.e., metamaterials and metasurfaces—that exhibit self-stabilizing mechanical behavior. In such a manner, it could become possible to manipulate macroscopic objects at arbitrary distances, leading to novel long-range levitation and propulsion paradigms with unique new terrestrial and space applications.


About Dr. Ognjen Ilic

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 wave-matter interactions in nanoscale structures and low-dimensional materials. His recent awards include the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award and the Bulletin Prize of the Materials Research Society. More details can be found at