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Sir John B. Pendry

Sir John B.

Sir John B. Pendry

Sir John B. Pendry is the Chair in theoretical solid-state physics at Imperial College London, a position that he has held since 1981. A student of the University of Cambridge, he started his research career with a PhD in Physics in 1969, when he became a fellow of Downing College. He left his native England for a research position at Bell Labs in 1972-73. He returned to Cambridge before joining the Daresbury Laboratory in 1975, and eventually Imperial College London, where he has served as head of the Physics Department and as Principal for the Faculty of Physical Sciences.

His early research interests focused on the electronic properties of surfaces. He developed theories that enabled the practical use of techniques for the study of the properties of surfaces, such as low energy electron diffraction and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. In 1992, Pendry started the study of the interaction of light and matter that would lead to the design of "metamaterials" with negative refractive index. In 2000, he then predicted that such metamaterials can focus light with unlimited resolution, proposing the concept of a "perfect lens."

Almost as a joke, in the early 2000’s Pendry proposed the idea of an "invisibility cloak" that would hide objects from electromagnetic radiation. The proposal was taken more seriously than he thought, and led to experimental realizations of such cloaking at microwave or visible wavelengths.

Pendry has won several awards, including the Dirac Medal in 1996, the Royal Medal in 2006, the UNESCO Niels Bohr gold medal in 2009, and the Isaac Newton Medal in 2013. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society and Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 1984, and in 2004 was knighted in the British Honours for his services to science. In 2013, Pendry was made Foreign Associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Life story Sir John B. Pendry

Sir John B. Pendry and His Royal Highness King Harald at the ceremony in Oslo Concert Hall (Photo credit: Scanpix).

Focused ion beam micrograph image of the bull’s eye structure on a 300 nm-thick silver film used to demonstrated transmission through a subwavelength hole. (Photo credit: Science 297, 820-822 [2002])

Read the life story of Kavli Prize Laureate Sir John B. Pendry:

In Search of New Knowledge


Watch videos with Sir John B. Pendry:

John Pendry Controls Light