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Kishan Dholakia awarded 2017 Thomas Young Medal by the Institute of Physics

30 Jun | By Kishan Dholakia
Kishan Dholakia awarded 2017 Thomas Young Medal by the Institute of Physics
Prof Kishan Dholakia (University of St Andrews) has been awarded the 2017 Thomas Young Medal by the Institute of Physics

Professor Kishan Dholakia of the University of St Andrews has been awarded the Institute of Physics (IOP) Thomas Young Medal and Prize for 2017 "for his work in the fields of optical micromanipulation and optical beam shaping including new insights into the understanding of complex light fields and their propagation."

 

Prof Dholakia’s work on Bessel and Airy beams opened up the area of “non-diffracting” beams for use in optical trapping. His group’s work with shaped beams for the passive optical sorting of biological cells was a breakthrough, and the paper has received more than one thousand citations. Prof Dholakia and team’s work on optical trapping of birefringent particles in a vacuum was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest spinning man-made object, as well as opening up the possibility to explore quantum vacuum friction.

 

While some of these studies were aimed at understanding fundamental science, many had a major emphasis on the use of special light beams in biomedical imaging for early detection of cancer, for neuroscience and for developmental biology.

 

The IOP awards recognise and reward excellence in people and teams who have made outstanding and exceptional contributions to the strength of physics.

 

This award was originally termed ‘The Thomas Young Oration’ of the Optical Society, instituted in 1907 and was to be ‘on an optical subject’. In 1932 the Optical Society was amalgamated with The Physical Society of London to become The Physical Society, the Council of the latter society appointing the orator. In 1961 the Council of the amalgamated Institute of Physics and The Physical Society changed the award to a medal and prize.

 

Thomas Young was a genuine polymath and physician. He developed the wave theory of light, characterised elasticity through the Young’s modulus and deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs using the Rosetta stone. He has been termed ‘The Last Man Who Knew Everything’.

 

Professor Dholakia said: “I am truly honoured and humbled to receive this highly prestigious award. It is a recognition of my whole group’s work in this exciting area of optical manipulation and beyond. They share this accolade with me.”

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