Berkeley expert on nanoscale science, metamaterials to deliver Hall Lecture March 27

One of the most innovative engineers in the field of nanoscale science says metamaterials – artificial nanostructures with electromagnetic properties not found in nature – offer future prospects for high-resolution optical microscopes and superfast optical computers.

The technology has broad implications for fields such as nanoscale photonics, electronics manufacturing and biomedical imaging.


Xiang Zhang, professor of mechanical engineering and the Ernest S. Kuh Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, will deliver the John R. and Donna S. Hall Engineering Lecture Monday, March 27, at 2:10 p.m. in the Jacobs Believed in Me Auditorium, Featheringill Hall 134. The lecture will be followed by a discussion and refreshments in Featheringill 136.

The lecture, “Metamaterials: Creating Properties that Do Not Exist in Nature,” will highlight an array of new technologies for nanoscale lithography that may transform the next generation of nano-manufacturing, said Zhang, director of the NSF-funded Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (SINAM) at Berkeley.

Recent theory predicted a new class of photonic composite materials with properties derived by the structure rather than chemical compositions, and which promise unprecedented electromagnetic properties that do not exist in nature, such as optical magnetism and negative refraction.

Zhang also will discuss the recent progress that “demonstrated the intriguing physics” of metamaterials, which could lead to a profound impact on a wide range of applications.

What makes metamaterials so important is the ability of engineers to control them. Engineers can arrange unit cells and manipulate wave propagation, tuning each cell. Changing each element’s electrical or mechanical characteristics can control the properties of the material as a whole.

Zhang, also Director of Materials Science Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, Academia Sinica, and a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research in optical metamaterials was selected by Time Magazine as “Top 10 Scientific Discoveries in 2008.”

Zhang is a recipient of numerous awards, including a NSF CAREER Award, Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship, Fitzroy Medal, Charles R. Richards Memorial Award, the Max Born Award, the Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics and A. C. Eringen Medal.

He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics at China’s Nanjing University, and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. He was a faculty member at Pennsylvania State University and UCLA prior to returning to Berkeley faculty in 2004.

The John R. and Donna S. Hall Engineering Lecture Series
The lecture series was established in 2002 to allow Vanderbilt School of Engineering students hear renowned engineers from universities and agencies address engineering topics of particular interest. The series is funded by an endowment founded by James Gray to honor the Halls. John Hall, a 1955 Vanderbilt engineering graduate, is retired chairman and chief executive officer of Ashland, Inc. He is a former president of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust and a recipient of the School of Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award. Donna Hall has served on several boards of directors of colleges and arts organizations, including the Kennedy Center’s President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts.

Brenda Ellis, (615) 343-6314
Twitter @VUEngineering