Vivian Ferry: The 2020 SPIE Early Career Achievement Award – Academic Focus
Vivian Ferry, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota, is an expert in the synthesis of metallic and semiconductor nanoparticles and has demonstrated the ability to assemble these particles into complex scaffolds — metamaterials — which, by virtue of their precise hierarchical structure, display collective optical effects not found in nature.
Her expertise includes the use of electromagnetic simulation to understand quantitatively key light-matter interactions, which has enabled her to design devices based on metamaterials such as optical strain sensors, light concentrators for solar cells, and detectors for "left-handed" versus "right-handed" light. Her broad combination of skills — synthesis, characterization, device design, theory — position her extremely well to make a big impact in optoelectronic materials research in her career. The research program she has launched at Minnesota focuses on the emergent properties of matter under light concentration. Its approach has important practical scope for opto-electronic materials design while also offering rich opportunities for fundamental discovery.
Ferry has already been recognized with a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award, and as one of Technology Review's "35 Innovators Under 35." She completed her doctoral work with SPIE Fellow Harry Atwater at Caltech and has been an invited speaker at SPIE Photonics West.
"Vivian is an internationally recognized expert on harnessing sunlight with nanostructured materials, and while the topic has expanded considerably in recent years to include many researchers, her work is absolutely on the cutting-edge," notes Stanford professor of materials science and engineering and SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering Symposium Chair Mark Brongersma. "She is a very creative and talented young researcher and educator who is already having a significant impact in the field of plasmonics and nanophotonics."