Tsampikos Kottos, professor of physics, professor of integrative sciences, professor of mathematics, was awarded a $400,000 Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) engineering grant from the National Science Foundation in October. This $2 million grant is equally split among a consortium of universities, including Stanford University, University of Minnesota, and University-Wisconsin-Madison, and will last for a period of four years.
The grant is associated with “New Light and Acoustic Wave Propagation: Breaking Reciprocity and Time-Reversal Symmetry” (NewLaw) and supports “engineering-led interdisciplinary research that challenges the notions of reciprocity, time-reversal symmetry and sensitivity to defects in wave propagation and field transport,” Kottos explained.
“Light is the fastest thing that we can use to send information,” said Kottos. “However, it’s too fast and hard to control. In this endeavour, one important achievement will be to generate one-way pathways (like a one-way traffic line) that the light can follow. We can do this by including magnetic fields or varying in time the optical pathways.”
He continues, “Light travels in the same way in both the forward and backward direction. This is why when we see somebody, this person can also see us. But it would be great if we break this reciprocity, allowing information to flow only in one direction and blocking it in the other.” And that is what Kottos and his team have set out to do.
Each grant team will work with visual and performing artists to develop modules for elementary and secondary school students. Students will be involved in the research through cutting-edge online workshops and courses. A key goal of the grant is to outreach to underrepresented groups from high schools, community colleges, and minority-serving institutions and create new educational and community resources to advance STEM education.