Student Spotlight

Photonics and Modern Electro-Magnetics Group (Soljacic): Chia Wei (Wade) Hsu


Hometown, Country:
Taipei, Taiwan

Academic history prior to coming to MIT:
B.A. in Physics and Mathematics at Wesleyan University

What brought you to MIT?
I was most interested in research problems that reveal the simple structures underlying complex phenomena. Meanwhile, I hope to work on something that has potential applications and can be appreciated by many people. Then I came upon Prof. Soljacic’s works on resonant wireless energy transfer and on one-way waveguides, and I thought that was exactly the type of research I wanted to do. I joined his group, and indeed found what I was looking for.

What problem are you trying to solve with your current research and what are some possible applications?
I study optical properties of nanoparticles and photonic crystals, both of which concern the behavior of light in structures with nanometer length scale. When I studied nanoparticles, I realized that they can selectively scatter light of a particular color while being transparent to other colors of light. Using this property, we created a new type of transparent screen that displays clear images while being almost transparent to the ambient light. When I studied photonic crystals, I came across structures that are capable of confining light at an angle and wavelength where light typically cannot be confined. This revelation led us to investigate potential applications in new types of lasers.

What interests you most about your research?
I enjoy making sense of phenomena that appear counterintuitive at first sight. And I enjoy the moments when I carry out a measurement on my sample to see that it agrees with prediction. I also enjoy carrying out discussions or debates with other members in our group. Lastly, it is a bonus that the research we do can lead to applications.

What are your future plans?
I hope to have my own research group that works on interesting physics problems with applications. So, I will go for post-doc after graduation, and look for a faculty position after that.