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Group Member

Professor Ortwin Hess

Professor of Quantum Nanophotonics

Professor Ortwin Hess was previously the Leverhulme Chair in Metamaterials at Imperial College London and co-Director of the Centre for Plasmonics and Metamaterials. Professor Hess (PhD 1993, TU Berlin) has held senior research positions for almost 25 years in a number of countries. Before earning his PhD, he was a research fellow at Heriot-Watt University and held postdoctoral positions in Berlin and Marburg before becoming of Head of Group at the Institute of Technical Physics (DLR) in Stuttgart, a post he held for over eight years. In 2003, he took up the post of Professor of Theoretical Condensed Matter and Optical Physics at the University of Surrey and remained there until 2011, at which time he moved to Imperial College. He has held visiting professorships at Stanford, Tampere University of Technology (Finland) and the University of Jena.

Professor Hess’ research is focused on quantum nanophotoncis, active metamaterials and spatio-temporal semiconductor laser dynamics. He is particularly recognised for his discovery and explanation of the “trapped-rainbow” principle, which states that it should be possible to slow down the speed of light using specially tailored materials, known as metamaterials, and utilise the slowed-down light for improved data transfer and cavity-free quantum electrodynamics. Hess pioneered the concept and research fields of active nanoplasmonics and optical metamaterials with quantum gain, predicting and explaining single-emitter strong coupling quantum dynamics at room-temperature and recently demonstrated the control of spatio-temporal semiconductor laser chaos with quantum chaos.

In 2016, Professor Hess was the recipient of the Rumford Medal from the Royal Society for “…his pioneering work in active nano-plasmonics and optical metamaterials with quantum gain”; previous winners of the award include Michael Faraday (1846), Louis Pasteur (1856), James Clerk Maxwell (1860), John Tyndall (1864), Ernest Rutherford (1904) and Lord Rayleigh (1914 and 1920). He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and the Optical Society. He has been an author of 5 books and over 300 publications in research journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Materials, etc, which have been cited almost 6000 (Scopus) / 9000 (Google Scholar) times. He has previously secured ca. €7.5M in personal research funding as PI or co-PI from the EPSRC, AFOSR, EU, as well as from other sources in Germany and the UK.