News Item

Prof Dholakia wins IOP Prize for his research

Professor Kishan Dholakia of this School has been awarded the Institute of Physics Thomas Young Medal and Prize for 2017. This prestigious award is for his “contributions to the field of optical micromanipulation using shaped light fields in liquid, air and vacuum”.

The citation goes on to talk about Prof Dholakia’s “internationally acknowledged and distinguished reputation for his work … including new insights into the understanding of complex light fields and their propagation”.

Prof Dholakia used special types of laser beams in “optical tweezers” to trap and rotate small particles, and using the interference of these light beams created the first 3D structure in optical traps. His team’s work on specially shaped laser beams (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 had more than a thousand citations. Prof Dholakia and team’s work on optical trapping of birefringent particles in a vacuum has 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.

Some of these studies were aimed at understanding fundamental science, and some 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 Institute of Physics awards recognise and reward excellence in people and teams who have made outstanding and exceptional contributions to the strength of physics. His contributions to the field have also been recognised by him being invited to give more than forty plenary talks and over two hundred invited talks.

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.”

First posted BDS 30.6.17