Our group investigates the mechanisms of self-organization in strongly interacting many-body systems, particularly in systems driven far from equilibrium. This search for Nature’s fundamental organizing principles focuses on experimental studies of model systems, such as colloidal dispersions, whose organizational transformations are amenable to direct observation and external control. One focus of our program has been to introduce innovative techniques in precision microscopy and optical micromanipulation. These efforts have spawned new research fields in their own right. Holographic optical trapping, for example, uses the forces and torques exerted by computer-generated holograms to organize microscopic systems into any desired configuration and state of organization. Beyond probing the forces responsible for self-organization, holographic trapping solves outstanding problems in medical diagnostics, and has led our group to demonstrate the first real-world tractor beams. The complementary technique of holographic particle characterization similarly solves critical manufacturing problems in biopharmaceuticals and semiconductor processing.

Awards and Achievements

  • Founder, Spheryx Inc. ( 2014)
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society ( 2014)
  • Golden Dozen Award for Undergraduate Teaching, NYU ( 2013)
  • World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer ( 2005)
  • Scientific American 50 ( 2003)
  • Quantrell Award for Undergraduate Teaching, Chicago ( 2000)

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