2017 Michael Faraday Medal and Prize

Professor Jeremy J Baumberg of the University of Cambridge for his investigations of many ingenious nanostructures supporting novel and precisely engineered plasmonic phenomena relevant to single molecule and atom dynamics, Raman spectroscopies and metamaterials applications.

Professor Jeremy J Baumberg is an outstandingly creative experimentalist in optoelectronics and nanophotonics.

His early discoveries in stimulated scattering in semiconductor cavities, ultrafast optical techniques for spintronics studies and polariton lasers have been highly influential and were recognised by the award of the IOP Thomas Young Medal in 2013.

Subsequent years have amply demonstrated, through lecturing invitations he receives as well as citation indices, the continuing and expanding influence of these earlier investigations. More importantly however, Baumberg's dramatic new work, developing and exploiting pioneering methods to trap light below the nanoscale has already attracted enormous attention.

These advances depend on his remarkable discovery of reliable practical procedures for constructing plasmonic resonators involving noble metal components with precisely engineered spacings controlled within 0.05 nm. Instead of more conventional lithographic tools to construct these trap-containing metamaterials, he uses a variety of self-assembly techniques with molecular monolayers, lipids, monolayer semiconductors, DNA origami, and nanoparticles. He can now follow single molecules as they dance around and flex.

Baumberg’s work has opened several doors. He has developed and patented his emerging technology to bring personalised medicine to the home through the intelligent toilet, which tracks neurotransmitters in urine at clinical levels over extended periods to monitor depression and related diseases. He uses light for reversible welding of nanowires across insulating gaps – vitally important to the emerging technology of memristive memory cells.

Building on his influential quantitative studies of tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, he has shown how it can be used to map atoms within molecules, and that molecules can be treated as vibrating springs plucked by light that can be driven into violent motion. Chemical reactions of single molecules in real time can now be studied – which is vital for catalysis.

Evident throughout is Baumberg’s drive to understand room-temperature behaviour at the nanoscale on real surfaces, gaining a picture of how atoms, molecules, water, light, charge, and heat all interact together. This has delivered significant intuitions, often clarifying previous longstanding confusions, at the confluence of physics, chemistry, materials, biosciences, and engineering. He shows an exemplary capability across interdisciplinary domains, illuminating the essential physics driving it all.

Baumberg is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was the winner of the IOP’s Young Medal and Prize in 2013.