John D. Joannopoulos

Francis Wright Davis Professor of Physics
Helped spawn the development of Photonic Crystals which have revolutionized the fields of optical and lightwave physics.
Research Areas

Research Interests

Research has spanned two major directions.

The first is devoted to creating a realistic and microscopic theoretical description of the properties of material systems. The approach is fundamental to predicting geometric, electronic and dynamical structure, ab-initio—that is, given only the atomic numbers of the constituent atoms as experimental input.

The second, and current major thrust, involves the development of a new class of materials called photonic crystals, which are designed to affect the properties of photons in much the same way that semiconductors affect the properties of electrons. These materials provide a new dimension in the ability to control and mold the flow of light. Efforts include the discovery of numerous anomalous photon phenomena, and the design of novel channel drop microfilters, high efficiency LEDs, low threshold microlasers, low-loss waveguide bends & intersections, one-way waveguides, and novel THz sources.

Biographical Sketch

  • Director, Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, MIT, July 2006 – Present.
  • Francis Wright Davis Professor of Physics, MIT, November 1996 – Present
  • Professor of Physics, MIT, July 1983 – October 1996
  • Associate Professor of Physics, MIT, July 1978 – June 1983
  • Assistant Professor of Physics, MIT, July 1974 – June 1978
  • Ph.D. Physics University of California, Berkeley, June 1974

Awards & Honors

  • 2024-2025 // Killian Award (MIT)
  • 2015 // Election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • 2015 // Max Born Award (OSA) "For numerous contributions to nanophotonics, including pioneering the "numerical experiments" approach for nanophotonics."
  • 2015 // Aneesur Rahman Prize for Computational Physics (APS) "For spearheading the development of ab-initio nano-photonics."
  • 2014-17 // Chair, Applied Physical Sciences, National Academy of Sciences
  • 2009 // World Technology Network Fellow
  • 2009 // National Academy of Sciences Member
  • 2009 // Outstanding Referee of the American Physical Society Journals
  • 2003 // Thomson Reuters Web of Science Most Highly Cited Researchers List
  • 2002 // American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow
  • 2001 // Graduate Teaching Award, MIT School of Science
  • 1998-99 // American Physical Society Centennial Speaker
  • 1997 // David Adler Lectureship Award in the Field of Materials Physics (APS) "For his pioneering use of modern computational tools for the calculation of the electronic, vibrational and optical properties of amorphous, crystalline and photonic bandgap materials, including their surfaces and defects, and for his excellence in lecturing, writing and training students in these areas."
  • 1996 // Francis Wright Davis Professor
  • 1996 // William Buechner Teaching Prize (MIT)
  • 1991 // MIT School of Science Graduate Council Teaching Award
  • 1983 // American Physical Society Fellow (APS) "For outstanding contributions to research and to developing young theorists in condensed matter physics."
  • 1981-82 // John S. Guggenheim Fellow
  • 1976-80 // Sloan Research Fellowship

Key Publications

  • Rev. Mod. Phys. 64, 1045 (1992)

  • Optics Express 8, 173 (2001).

  • Nature, 386, 143 (1997).