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Physicist awarded £350,000 research grant to ‘break’ time-reversal symmetry with mechanical motion

13 December 2018


A Portuguese physicist, dubbed ‘one of the most inventive engineers in his generation’, has been awarded a prestigious international prize from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to advance work into symmetry breaking in material-photonic systems. This will open up a world of more compact electromagnetic isolators, novel light sources, better waveguides and more effective energy harvesting.

Professor Mário G. Silveirinha, from the University of Lisbon and researcher at Instituto de Telecomunicações, Portugal, is the winner of the £350,000 IET A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize. He was chosen from high-calibre candidates from across the world as a result of his new approach and vision of how time reversal symmetry can be broken with ‘mechanical motion’, such as by injecting a drift electric current into a material.


The funding will support a further five years of work with the aim of showing how such solutions may enable the one-way propagation of microwave and terahertz waves totally immune to the undesired effects of back-scattering by obstacles, imperfections, and other deformations of the propagation path.


Professor Silveirinha, said: “I am extremely honoured to receive the IET A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize. It is rather inspiring that Dr. Arthur F. Harvey was himself one of the pioneers of nonreciprocal microwave devices, and I am thrilled that I will be able to build my own research on nonreciprocal and topological electromagnetics with the generous support of his Prize and contribute with innovative solutions for future technologies”.


Sir John O’Reilly, Chair of the IET’s Selection Committee for the Prize, said: “Prof. Mário G. Silveirinha is awarded the A F Harvey Research Prize in recognition of his outstanding research achievements and as a pioneer in the field of near-zero index materials and photonics. This is a fundamental research area that will have important implications for applications such as mobile radio, radar, and optical fibre communication networks in the future.”


The IET’s A F Harvey Research Prize, worth £350,000, is named after Dr A F Harvey who bequeathed a generous sum of money to the IET for a trust fund to be set up in his name for the furtherance of scientific research into the fields of medical, microwave, laser or radar engineering.


Prof. Mário G. Silveirinha will present a prize lecture on his research at IET London: Savoy Place on 18 March 2019.

Notes to editors:

About Mário G. Silveirinha

Mário G. Silveirinha received the Licenciado degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal, in 1998, and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering (with a minor in Applied Mathematics) from the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal, in 2003. Currently, he is a Professor at the University of Lisbon, Portugal and a Senior Researcher at Instituto de Telecomunicações.
Mário Silveirinha is an IEEE Fellow with the citation “for contributions to the electrodynamics of metamaterials”. He is the 2018 recipient of the IET Harvey Engineering Research Prize “for contributions to electrodynamics of metamaterials and its applications to microwave components and devices”. He is a founding editor of the APS journal Physical Review Applied. He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania during several periods in 2004-2005 and 2010-2011, and a Chercheur CNRS en Physique at the University of Montpellier in 2017. He is a junior member of the Academy of Sciences of Lisbon.