July 20, 2021

The award recognizes Alù’s challenges to the boundaries of materials science and physics, which have brought about advances in electromagnetics, nano-optics, and acoustics.

Professor Andrea Alù
Professor Andrea Alù

Professor Andrea Alù, founding director of the Photonics Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center at the Graduate Center, CUNY (CUNY ASRC) and Einstein Professor of Physics at the Graduate Center, has been named the 2021 Blavatnik National Awards Laureate in Physical Sciences and Engineering. 

The Blavatnik National Awards, given annually by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, honor early-career scientists and engineers who have made trailblazing discoveries in their fields. Alù and two other laureates were selected from 298 nominations by 157 institutions across the U.S. Each laureate will receive $250,000, the world’s largest unrestricted prize for early-career scientists and engineers.

The award recognizes Alù’s challenges to the boundaries of materials science and physics, which have brought about advances in electromagnetics, nano-optics, and acoustics. His efforts are leading to new and enhanced technologies with potential applications in areas such as cellular communications, energy harvesting, radar cloaking, and biomedical sensing and imaging.

“The jury has been following Andrea Alù’s career quite closely,” said Physical Sciences and Engineering Jury Chair Robbert Dijkgraaf. “His research has only bettered, achieving many breakthrough discoveries in the field of metamaterials, with important technological applications. On top of this, since his first nomination, he made the transition to the City University of New York because he wanted to enhance the impact of his work by reaching out to and working with a much more diverse group of students. Andrea should be praised for his many courageous steps, both in his research and in his career.”

“Andrea Alù has truly advanced the frontiers of materials science. He has created novel nanostructured metamaterials that have many applications: in communication technologies, energy harvesting and optical computing, and national defense,” said Graduate Center President Robin L. Garrell. “Professor Alù has also been an inspiring mentor to students and postdoctoral scholars, many of whom are now forging their own impressive academic and research careers. He is deeply deserving of this recognition.”

“This award from the Blavatnik Foundation is such a well-deserved honor for Professor Alù,” said Annette (Nina) Gray, Graduate Center associate dean for the sciences and executive director of the CUNY ASRC. “It is an inspiration to learn about his groundbreaking discoveries and effectively see science fiction become reality on a regular basis — all in an effort to reveal the fundamental workings of the universe and to improve human, societal, and environmental well-being through interdisciplinary research, in keeping with the CUNY ASRC’s mission.”

Alù’s work has previously been supported by a $3 million Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship, the most prestigious single-investigator award from the U.S. Department of Defense; a $3.2 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and a Simons Collaboration in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences grant of up to $16 million. He has been recognized as a finalist for the Blavatnik National Awards every year since 2016. 
“It’s an amazing honor,” Alù said, “and I’m thrilled to receive it. It’s a great recognition not just for me, but for my entire research group, past and present members, and all the work we’ve been doing for many years.”

Andrea Alù’s latest research

In June 2021, Andrea Alù and his group discussed in Physical Review X how it is possible to create metasurfaces with superior control over thermal radiation and photoluminescence, rather than coherent external light.
Also, in a paper published in Nature in 2020, Alù and his group introduced the concept of twistronics for nanoscale light manipulation.

Read more about Andrea Alù and his work on the CUNY ASRC website.