John D. Joannopoulos is the Director of the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, a position he has held since 2006. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences in its Applied Physical Sciences section. He has been on the Faculty of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as Assistant Professor of Physics (1974), Associate Professor of Physics (1978), Professor of Physics (1983) and was awarded the Francis Wright Davis Professor of Physics Chair in 1996. He has served as Divisional Associate Editor of Physical Review Letters, member of the Editorial Board of Reviews of Modern Physics, and was appointed as the Director of the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies in 2006. He received his B.A. and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1968 and 1974, respectively.
The research of Professor Joannopoulos spans two major directions. The first is devoted to creating a realistic and microscopic theoretical description of the properties of material systems. His approach is fundamental to predicting geometric, electronic and dynamical structure, ab-initio—that is, given only the atomic numbers of the constituent atoms as experimental input. Ab-initio investigations are invaluable because they can stand on their own, complement experimental observations, and probe into regimes inaccessible to experiment. The second major direction involves the development of a new class of materials called photonic crystals, which are designed to affect the properties of photons in much the same way that semiconductors affect the properties of electrons. These materials provide a new dimension in the ability to control and mold the flow of light.
He is the author or coauthor of over 590 refereed scientific journal articles, three textbooks on photonic crystals, and holds over 80 issued U.S. Patents. He is also co-founder of 4 startup companies: OmniGuide, Inc.; Luminus Devices, Inc.; WiTricity Corporation; and Typhoon HIL, Inc.