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Pendry to speak on 'cloak of invisibility'

Thursday, April 8, 2010, 8 p.m. A02 McDonnell Hall

Renowned physicist John Pendry will speak on "A Cloak of Invisibility: Harry Potter Does Electromagnetism" at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 8, in A02 McDonnell Hall.

Pendry will discuss "metamaterials," assemblages of tiny rods and C-shaped metallic rings that respond to electromagnetic fields in new and highly controllable ways. Pendry was one of the first scientists to calculate how a shell consisting of such material could be designed to usher light around it, rendering it as invisible -- just as the fictional Harry Potter becomes when he hides beneath his imperceptible cloak.

Pendry, who was knighted for his contributions to science, is the chair of theoretical solid state physics at Imperial College London. He has worked extensively on electronic and structural properties of surfaces. He also developed some of the first computer codes capable of handling photonic materials. This interest led to his present research, which concerns the remarkable electromagnetic properties of materials where the normal response to electromagnetic fields is reversed, leading to negative values for the refractive index.

His talk is the 35th Donald Ross Hamilton Lecture sponsored by the Department of Physics.

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