Simons Collaboration:
Harnessing Universal Symmetry Concepts for Extreme Wave Phenomena

Collaboration Director: Andrea Alù, Director, Photonics Initiative, ASRC

This groundbreaking research program aims to further our fundamental understanding of and ability to manipulate light and sound waves in order to facilitate the development of leapfrog technologies in a variety of areas, including telecommunications and biomedical sciences. The program will support fundamental research based at ASRC and leveraging the collaboration with eleven universities and research institutes across the globe.

About the Collaboration

Symmetries and symmetry breaking play a crucial role in defining a wide range of natural phenomena. Symmetries at the microscopic scale govern the bulk response of materials, and they fundamentally define the constitutive relations that describe the way in which waves, like light and sound, propagate in natural materials. In the last few years, there has been a growing recognition that engineered (artificial) complex media, or metamaterials, can open new directions in terms of manipulating and controlling wave propagation and transport processes — a game-changing paradigm for a broad range of technologies, from wireless communications to biomedical sciences, from laser technologies to energy harvesting and computing.

This interdisciplinary collaboration builds on the recent concerted realization that advanced symmetry principles can guide the design and synthesis of new metamaterials with exotic wave properties, providing tools for the design and implementation of groundbreaking functional properties that enable extreme forms of wave manipulation. The parallel discovery of new theoretical concepts for wave physics in complex media, combined with the extraordinary recent progress in nanotechnologies and nanofabrication of engineered materials, makes the purpose of this collaboration extremely timely. The team will build on knowledge in these areas to drive the development of a unified theory for classical wave transport in metamaterials based on symmetries. In turn, these findings will inspire new forms of synthetic matter that enable extreme control of waves of different natures. Implementation of these concepts is expected to result in a plethora of new devices and breakthrough technology.

About the Simons Collaboration in Mathematics and Physical Sciences Award

The Simons Collaborations in MPS program aims to stimulate progress on fundamental scientific questions of major importance in mathematics, theoretical physics, and theoretical computer science. The award provides up to $16 million to fund four to eight years of research.