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Updated 10:00 AM December 3, 2007
 

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EECS professor receives Young Investigator Award

Tony Grbic, assistant professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), received a Young Investigator Award in October from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).
(Photo by Scott Galvin, U-M Photo Services)

Over the next three years, Grbic and his research team will use the grant to continue researching and developing near-field focusing plates. He currently is collaborating with Roberto Merlin, professor, department of physics, Steve Forrest, vice president for research, and graduate student Lei Jiang.

The plates manipulate electromagnetic fields by focusing radio and optical waves in unusually close proximity to wave sources. Single-layer processing and a nuanced depth of focus range make near-field plates an attractive research area, and one which currently remains relatively unexplored.

"We're excited about these experimental results," Grbic says, citing near-field plates' ability to focus at a resolution tenfold finer than conventional lenses.

"No one has shown focusing to these resolutions. There's been quite an effort in the last seven years in metamaterials, and I believe this is the best resolution people have achieved at microwave frequencies."

Fawwaz Ulaby, professor of electromagnetics and former vice president for research, says, "this type of technology development is so fundamental that its success will have a significant impact on many fields of science and engineering."

Grbic's research may find application in fields as varied as antenna design, microwave/millimeter-wave devices, nonradiative wireless power transfer systems, optical microscopy, beam-shaping and field-probing. Nearfield plates may enable optical microscopy at previously unprecedented levels of detail, and improve the efficiency and range of wireless power transfer systems that allow users to run laptops, light bulbs or other power-dependent devices wirelessly in contained environments.

Grbic is a member of the Radiation Laboratory in EECS. He came to the University in 2005 after completing his doctorate at the University of Toronto. There, he conducted research in negative index refraction, which is a related technique for achieving focusing in the near-field.

The AFOSR grant supports young scientists and engineers engaged in exceptionally creative basic research; Grbic and 28 other researchers won AFOSR grants from among 215 proposals. Grbic's team is the only AFOSR recipient studying applied electromagnetics.

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