Professor Richard Blaikie FRSNZ has been awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Hector Medal for his pioneering contributions to the field of nano-optics, where he demonstrated that light can be manipulated at scales much smaller than its wavelength
Upon returning to New Zealand in 1995, he established an experimental facility at the University of Canterbury for testing new ideas in this emerging field using methods borrowed from the semiconductor industry. The research group set about developing a number of new techniques for nano-scale optical printing (nanolithography) for etching, writing, or printing at the microscopic level, where the dimensions of characters are on the order of nanometres. This technique can be used to fabricate tiny electrical circuits.
His group first showed unambiguously that patterning at sub-wavelength scales is possible using a simple mask-based technique, which set the scene for future developments. In 2000 when Sir John Pendry controversially proposed that negative refraction could be used to make a so-called ‘perfect lens’, Professor Blaikie was in a prime position to provide the first experimental demonstration using his sub-wavelength techniques, using thin layers of silver illuminated with UV light to produce ‘photographs’ of objects smaller than the wavelength.
Professor Blaikie was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2011. He was Director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology from 2008 -2011. He is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) and Professor in Physics at the University of Otago.
2013 Hector Medal
To Richard John Blaikie
For his fundamental and wide-ranging contributions in the field of nano-optics, in particular for providing a world-first demonstration of a controversial silver superlens system.