Physicist named top 50 in the world

Tuesday 7 November 2006

A physicist at the University of St Andrews best known for his pioneering work into invisibility has been named one of the top fifty ‘outstanding’ leaders in research in the world.

Professor Ulf Leonhardt, of the University’s School of Physics & Astronomy, has been awarded by the popular science journal ‘Scientific American’ in their yearly ‘Scientific American 50’ honours for playing a ‘critical role in driving key science and technology trends over the last year’.

Professor Leonhardt shares the prestigious award with David Schurig and David Smith of Duke University and Sir John Pendry of the Imperial College for contributions made towards the development of an ‘invisible cloak’. The Duke team has recently demonstrated the first prototype of a cloaking device that, so far, works for microwave radiation of a certain wavelength.

Professor Leonhardt has been working on ideas of designing invisibility devices based on modern metamaterials, inspired by Fermat’s principle, analogies between Einstein’s general relativity and the optics of media, the optics of illusions, Arabia and the imagination of his children.

He said, “I am delighted to be named in the Scientific American 50 this year. The idea of invisibility has fascinated people for millennia and has been an inspiration or ingredient of myths, novels and films, from the Greek legend of Perseus versus Medusa to H.G. Well’s ‘Invisible Man’ and J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’.”

Professor Leonhardt was born in Schlema, in former East Germany, in 1965. He studied at Friedrich- Schiller University Jena, Germany, at Moscow State University, Russia, and at Humboldt University Berlin, Germany. He received the Diploma in Physics from Friedrich- Schiller University in 1990 and the PhD in Theoretical Physics from Humboldt University in 1993. Since 2000 he has been a Chair in Theoretical Physics at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Professor Leonhardt was the first researcher from former East Germany to win the Otto Hahn Award of the Max Planck Society. For his PhD thesis he received the Tiburtius Prize of the Senate of Berlin. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics.

Founded in 1845, Scientific American’s editorial contributors have included over 100 Nobel laureates, among them Albert Einstein, and previous winners of the Scientific American 50 have included Nobel Prize winners, philanthropists, researchers and the founders of Google.

The winners will be published in the December issue of Scientific American.




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