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 »  Home  »  Education  »  Marin Soljacic Croatian-American physicist researching from wireless energy transfer to photonic crystals
Marin Soljacic Croatian-American physicist researching from wireless energy transfer to photonic crystals
By Darko Žubrinić | Published  07/30/2013 | Science , Education | Unrated
A founder of WiTricity Corporation

Marin Soljačić, professor of physics at MIT, USA
(photo by premisa press)

Marin Soljačić

Marin Soljačić was born in Croatia's capital Zagreb in 1974. After graduating from XV Gymnasium (MIOC) in Zagreb he got a scholarship from MIT where he got his BSc in physics and electrical engineering in 1996. In 1998 he got his MSc from Princeton University and in 2000 he got his PhD in Physics. In 2005 he became a professor of Physics at MIT. In 2008, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.

In 2007 Marin Soljačić and his assistants successfully made the first efficient non-radiative power transfer at a distance of 2 meters turning on a 60 W light bulb. Energy transfer was 40% efficient. Professor Soljačić's experiments and work in wireless energy transfer are related in spirit to the work of Nikola Tesla in the early 20th century, but also have significant differences: unlike Tesla's failed efforts at long-range wireless energy transfer, the Soljačić group focuses only on short-range transfer, and unlike Tesla coils which resonantly transfer power with electric fields (which couple strongly to surrounding matter, most famously inducing artificial lightning) the Soljačić proposal uses coupling primarily via magnetic fields. This work is currently being pursued in Soljačić's WiTricity company. Soljačić believes that low-power commercial application of this technology, such as charging of mobile phones, is several years away.

In addition to wireless energy transfer, Prof. Soljačić works on numerous problems on electromagnetism in materials structured on the scale of the wavelength, such as micro- and nano-structured materials for infrared and visible light, including nonlinear optical devices and surface plasmons. His recent research, supported by a US$20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, focuses on use of photonic crystals in solar cells.



WiTricity Corp. was founded in 2007 to commercialize an exciting new technology for wireless electricity invented two years earlier at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  A team of physicists, led by Professor Marin Soljačić, developed the theoretical basis for this novel method for wireless electric power transfer in 2005, and validated their theories experimentally in 2007.  The magnetic fields of two properly designed devices with closely matched resonant frequencies can couple into a single continuous magnetic field. Prof. Soljačić's team showed how to use this phenomenon to enable the transfer of power from one device to the other at high efficiency and over a distance range that is useful for real-world applications.  This “strong coupling” enables the devices to exchange energy via magnetism, and avoids the potential safety hazards and inefficiency often associated with radiated electro-magnetic energy. Their demonstration of wireless power transfer showed a 60 watt light bulb being illuminated from a power source over 2 meters away, and their results were published in the prestigious journal Science in July 2007.  More important than simply proving they could illuminate a light bulb, the experiment validated their theoretical models of how electric power is wirelessly transferred as a function of the geometry, distance, and electrical properties of the devices used. This demonstration achieved broad media attention when it was announced, indicating both the intense public interest and commercial need for wireless power transfer.  Prof. Soljačić was recognized with a MacArthur Fellowship (also known as “Genius Grant”) in September 2008, awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  In addition, his work was recognized as one of the “Top Ten Emerging Technologies for 2008” by Technology Review, “Top 100 Science Stories of 2007” by Discover Magazine, and cited in The New York Times Magazine: “The Year in Ideas – 2007.”


As the exclusive licensee of this MIT intellectual property, WiTricity Corp. was founded by Prof. Soljačić and several colleagues from MIT.  WiTricity Corp. received its initial venture capital funding in November of 2007 from Stata Ventures and Argonaut Private Equity. Stata Ventures is a technology investment firm managed by Ray Stata, the founder, Chairman, and former CEO of Analog Devices.

WiTricity is exclusive licensee of MIT patents for Wireless Energy Transfer. Our founder, MIT professor Marin Soljačić, was the leader of the MIT research team that developed WiTricity technology. This includes the MIT patents for highly resonant magnetic coupling as well as many energy transfer system improvements. Since the original discovery, WiTricity Corporation has filed for patents on dozens of its own innovations, including improvements to the technology, as well as a large number of products and applications that use the technology. The MIT and WiTricity patents are available for licensing for interested parties.


Eric Giler wants to untangle our wired lives with cable-free electric power. Here, he covers what this sci-fi tech offers,
and demos MIT's breakthrough version, WiTricity -- a near-to-market invention
that may soon recharge your cell phone, car, pacemaker. (More than 1.500.000 views)

Marin Soljačić, professor at MIT, with his team in 2012, on the occasion of celbrating Wenyun's defnese of his PhD.
Left to right: Veronika, Song, Dario, Adrian, Ognjen, Wenjun, Wade, Marin, Bo, Yichen, Zhiyu, John, and Ling. Source
A new way to trap light

MIT researchers discover a new phenomenon that could lead to new types of lasers and sensors.

David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

The discovery has been reported in the journal Nature in July 2013 by professors of physics Marin Soljačić and John Joannopoulos, associate professor of applied mathematics Steven Johnson, and graduate students Chia Wei Hsu, Bo Zhen, Jeongwon Lee and Song-Liang Chua.

Please, see MIT news for more detailed information.

Members of the team that discovered and demonstrated the new way to trap light. From left:
Bo Zhen, Chia Wei Hsu, Steven Johnson, John Joannopoulos, Marin Soljačić, Song-Liang Chua and Jeongwon Lee.
 The background is a snapshot of a theoretical simulation of their system, where light (its electric field
shown in blue and red patterns) is confined in a slab with periodic array of holes.
Photo courtesy of the researchers. Source MIT news.

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