Nader Engheta Awarded Ellis Island Medal of Honor

Nader Engheta looks on at his team’s latest metamaterial device. Its “Swiss cheese” pattern of plastic and air holes is precisely designed to represent part of a specific integral equation. (Photo: Eric Sucar)

Nader Engheta, H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering, has been awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The medal is awarded to Americans who embody values of compassion, generosity and brotherhood and was presented to him at the historic site earlier this week.

Engheta’s career at the University of Pennsylvania began in 1987 in the Department of Electrical Engineering and his research interests span the fields of nano-electromagnetism, hyperspectral imaging, and metamaterials. Nader and his group are also exploring how metastructures can impact the interaction between matter and light at the nanoscale.

Engheta’s most recent work was published in the journal Science and involves using principles of analog computing to create metamaterials that can solve pre-set integral equations. He and his colleagues constructed a device made of polystyrene plastic, carved in a complicated, precise pattern by a CNC milling machine, that manipulates incoming microwaves such they emerge encoded with the solution to a set problem. Future work will involve scaling down the principles behind this device so that “photonic calculus” can be conducted with light waves. Such a device would fit onto a microchip, making it easier and quicker to get solutions to integral equations.