Annual Fitzpatrick Meeting to Highlight ‘Science and Technology for a Purpose’

The seventh annual meeting of Duke's Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics, which will be held at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering on Oct. 11 and 12, will highlight "Photonics in the Translational Era: Science and Technology for a Purpose." Photonics is the science and technology of light and its interaction with materials.

"The main purpose of the symposium is to bring together scientists, engineers and practitioners from multiple disciplines and provide a forum for applications of the state of the art in photonics research," said Tuan Vo-Dinh, director of the Fitzpatrick Institute and a professor of biomedical engineering.

"While fundamental science is critically important and lays the groundwork for future advances, applied research has real societal value. It's what I like to call science for a purpose," Vo-Dinh added. "We are fortunate to have a really outstanding program focused on that topic this year."

The event will kick off with a keynote address from John H. Marburger, III, the president's science adviser. Marburger's presentation will be followed by a plenary lecture from Sir John Pendry of the Imperial College London. Pendry is a member of the team--including the Pratt School's David R. Smith and Steve Cummer, both professors in the department of electrical and computer engineering--that last year demonstrated the first "invisibility cloak" for microwaves.

Pendry said he plans to discuss the potential for cloaks that would divert magnetic fields, a feat he said they've already shown to be theoretically possible with superconducting metamaterials. Metamaterials are the exotic composites with unique properties that made the microwave cloak a reality. Magnetic cloaks would have medical application, he said, protecting operators of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines from the powerful magnets used to image patients.

The metamaterials field will be further highlighted at the meeting through two special topic sessions. The sessions will also focus on the field of plasmonics, Vo-Dinh said, noting that both metamaterials and plasmonics offer "tremendous new properties." Plasmonics is the study of excitations in tiny metal particles, many of which have frequencies in the visible spectrum. "It's going to be fantastic--a real who's who of metamaterials and plasmonics researchers will be there," said Smith. "It's a way for us to feature the latest research in optics--especially in metamaterials and plasmonics--and showcase the work that is taking place here at Duke."

The symposium's first day will also feature Nobel Laureate Peter Agre, vice chancellor of science and technology at Duke, who will chair a special panel session on "Research Innovation and Translation in the Global Era." His presentation will be followed by a poster session and tours of Fitzpatrick Center laboratories. In addition to the second session on metamaterials and plasmonics, the meeting's second and last day will include a special panel, co-chaired by Duke Medical Center's Kim Lyerly and James Provenzale, entitled "What Physicians Really Need from Engineers."

Vo-Dinh said that the number of registrants for the meeting continues to grow, with more and more scientists from institutions outside of Duke expressing interest in presenting their work. He said that they might even have to consider expanding the event format next year to accommodate the increased demand.

For additional information or to register for the meeting, go to The Fitzpatrick Center web site.