Creative and Innovative: Nanfang Yu Wins Young Investigator Award

Nanfang Yu (Photo by Jeffrey Schifman)

Nanfang Yu, assistant professor of applied physics, has won a 2016 Young Investigator Award from the U.S. Office of Naval Research for exceptionally creative research with far-reaching implications for technological needs of the Navy and the Department of Defense.

Yu is one of just 47 early-career tenure-track academic scientists selected this year for the prestigious honor, one of the oldest and most selective research advancement programs in the country. For his proposal, “Phase-Change Correlated Perovskites as a New Platform for Photonics,” he is slated to receive approximately $510,000 over a three-year period for graduate student stipends and scholarships, and for equipment and other expenses, to sustain his research.

Earlier this year, Yu received a major grant from the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Scientific Research as part of the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), which helps researchers procure state-of-the-art equipment for developing next-generation defense capabilities and will support his work with infrared cameras and other light sources.

Yu’s research interests include mid-infrared and far-infrared optics and optoelectronic devices and active plasmonics and metamaterials with gain media. He studies the interaction between light and structured active materials at the nanometer scale and builds novel devices including lasers, detectors, and active components for controlling light. His recent work includes investigations into what humans can learn from Saharan silver ants, uniquely capable of surviving extreme heat, and research into unusual optical waves that resist distortion.

—by Jesse Adams