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Milan Maksimovic (promotion date: 11 April 2008)

Optical resonances in multilayer structures

Promotion date: 11 April 2008

Thesis advisor: prof. dr. E. Van Groesen

Assistant thesis advisor: dr. M. Hammer. Also expert advice by Dr. Zoran Jakšić, University of Belgrade

A theoretical research in optics concerning optical multilayers: structures those are periodic in their properties in one direction. A second class of problems concerns multilayer structures incorporating negative index metamaterials, which are artificial composites with sub wavelength features and negative real-part of the refractive index of the homogenized structure.

Your approach sounds very mathematically. Where can we find the application part in your work?

I combined two approaches: improving existing mathematical models in already applied systems, and search for new physical phenomena, that can be useful in future systems, by working out theoretical photonics systematically.

Optical multilayers are applied in a wide range of optical devices, in many different ways. It is still important to look for novel materials enabling desired functionalities as well as the exploration of new physical phenomena.

Metamaterials, on the other hand, are very hot in both scientific research, and the chances industry sees for them. They become visible in new branches of optics and they have physical nano-properties, not known in the common world we live in.

Light can bend, for example, in an opposite direction than you would normally expect in all naturally occurring materials. That is one of the fun things of nanotechnology: it is a different world you think and work in. You can think of - and theoretically prove - that new phenomena are possible. And then you imagine new devices, like a perfect lens, or a thermal radiation antenna that absorbs electromagnetic radiation of thermal origin. This can lead to new possibilities in the application domain for the middle-far future.

Constructing new theoretical approaches, you did a lot of thinking on your own, I expect.

Well, it is how it works. It is one way of being a scientist. It is hard to be only a pure mathematician or an experimental physicist these days.

My promotional work, especially the second part, is different from more applied fields, but this kind of theoretical approach is an equally important part of scientific research, to make real progress. Concerning the mathematical techniques, and the acquired precision and interpretability of experimental solutions that goes with it, I learned a lot from professor Brenny van Groesen and Manfred Hammer. This research-topic of the Applied Analysis and Mathematical Physics Group (AAMP) was embedded in the NanoNed Flagship project: “Optical switching by NEMS-actuated resonator arrays, modelling & simulation tools”.

Part of my thesis comes from my first years I worked at the Institute of Microelectronic Technologies and Single Crystals in Belgrade. As a researcher I worked closely together with Zoran Jakšić.

After MESA+... how will life look like? Do you have any specific goals?

First of all I am going to finish some work and stay for a few months as a temporary group member, where I'm in now. Also I am working on some new publications.

I am planning to stay in the Netherlands. I prefer to stay in research, but I am not bounding myself. It can be in a university group or at a R&D-division within an industrial company. The main goal is, to find creative work that allows one to grow in different directions.

Part of my desire to stay in Holland is that my fiancée is also a PhD student here at UT. In the more far future, perhaps I will return to Serbia. But the possibilities for an experienced researcher are by far not as good as in Holland. But we are a developing country, so I believe that will bring along new chances that I can attribute to.

How did you experience your years here? For example ... does a MESA+-culture exist?

Mesa has a broad range of important research topics. My personal feeling is, that a more structural way of sharing information, would be very good. Really different groups can learn from each other, in unexpected ways: coming up with new ideas, broaden your view, learn things and finding new ways of solving problems.

We talk to each other only occasionally, when we meet more or less by accident. There are some moments organized, like the “MESA+ dag”, but more can be done in a structural way, in my opinion.

And what about the Dutch?

In the next few years I am going to make more efforts, in speaking the language. At work there was no real necessity because everybody here speaks English. But that is different outside of the university.

Some other things I am getting used to, though I don't really understand them, for example why everybody has these huge windows where you can look in from the outside. This is quite different from the rest of the world, as far as I know.

There is one thing I am really planning, to take up in the nearby years. Everybody in Holland has a hobby, which is a really important part of their lives. I think that is a healthy approach towards life. So besides finding new work, I am going to find me a real good hobby. At the moment I cannot tell you what hobby that will be.