New Faculty Member: Nanfang Yu

The APAM Department is pleased to announce the appointment of Nanfang Yu as a new assistant professor of Applied Physics (Solid State Physics).

Prof. Yu studies light-matter interaction in the subwavelength scale and its implications for solid-state devices. His lab designs and builds novel infrared optical components and optoelectronic devices to address today’s challenges in security, energy and health care. His research relies on physical intuition and simulations for device design and involves nano-/micro-fabrication and device characterization. His research uses a few key concepts and materials including optical antennas, plasmonic metamaterials and meta-surfaces, semiconductor quantum wells, and active materials such as graphene.

Most recently, he has been interested in creating ultra-thin, flat optical components that can instantaneously mold optical wavefronts with subwavelength resolution and fast speed. To this end, he and his students are investigating miniature optical scatters (“optical antennas”) that allow for abrupt and adjustable changes of the amplitude, phase and/or polarization of the scattered light and techniques to assemble such antennas with spatially inhomogeneous optical response into arrays. Prof. Yu is also interested in biophysics. He is collaborating with biologists to conduct a research project to study the physical mechanism of insects’ perception of infrared light. The motivation is to understand how certain insects detect broadband thermal radiation with high sensitivity or detect “fingerprint” infrared radiation from certain chemicals with high specificity. It is his hope that scientific and engineering lessons learnt from this program will provide insights in building novel infrared detectors, energy harvesters, and communication systems.

Prof. Yu received his Ph.D. degree in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University in 2009, and his B.S. degree from the Department of Electronics at Peking University, China, in 2004. He was a research associate in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University from 2009 to 2012. He has worked extensively on plasmonics, metamaterials, and mid-infrared and terahertz semiconductor lasers.

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