Technological advances of the past decade have enabled the control of the material structure at length-scales smaller than the wavelength of light. This enabled the creation of new materials, e.g., photonic bandgap crystals, or various surface plasmon systems, whose optical properties are dramatically different than those of any naturally occurring material. For example, nanostructured materials which display diffraction-less propagation of light, exhibit negative refraction, or support very slow propagation of light, have all been demonstrated. Professor Soljacic's interests are in exploring the new and exciting physical phenomena supported by these materials.
The unique properties of these new materials have already enabled a wide range of very important applications, e.g., in medicine, telecommunications, defense, etc., and are expected to do so even more in the future. Professor Soljačić is also interested in various topics in nonlinear optical physics. Maxwell's equations as presented in most undergraduate text books are linear. However, all materials in nature are nonlinear (including vacuum), and sure enough, at high light intensities, optical phenomena become nonlinear, displaying a wide range of rich and beautiful behavior. For example, almost every general non-linear dynamics phenomenon, e.g., solitons, pattern formation, fractals, etc., can now be studied in optical material systems. Professor Soljacic is also interested in investigating the feasibility of wireless power transfer, which he and colleagues have dubbed "WiTricity."