The US physicist who first discovered “photonic crystals” which can repel, trap and steer light is to receive the Newton Medal, the BBC can reveal. This is the highest honour given by the Institute of Physics in London.
Prof Eli Yablonovitch of the University of California, Berkeley, proposed and created the crystals in the 1980s. They are now used in data processing and in wave guides for laser surgery; they have also been discovered in bird feathers and the skin of chameleons. “I’m very, very honoured,” Prof Yablonovitch told the BBC. His seminal description of photonic crystals was published in 1987 when these materials had never been manufactured, and were not known by that name.
It is the second most-cited paper ever published in the prestigious journal Physical Review Letters. Surprisingly enough, the same concept was described in a second paper three weeks later by Sajeev John, now a professor at the University of Toronto. Source: Creator of photonic crystals wins Newton medal