Professor Constantin SimovskI believes metamaterials can change the world

Constantin Simovski was appointed Full Professor on 1 September 2012. His field of research is optical metamaterials, i.e., artificial materials that have been engineered to have properties not found in nature. Simovski expects metamaterials to revolutionise waste heat harvesting.

‘Current mechanisms for heat harvesting are not very efficient: they may convert only about 3% of waste heat into electricity. However, with the help of metamaterials, in the near future perhaps 40% – and theoretically in the far future even 95% – of industrial heat could be converted!’ Simovski argues.

In the field of optics, metamaterials have benefited from a lot of investment and are deemed to be most promising. However, what gives researchers a headache is trying to find ways to apply them in everyday life. Simovski believes that investments in metamaterials should be directed toward purposes that have practical significance.

‘For example, perfect metamaterial-based lenses and invisibility cloaks have no purpose if we don’t have any use for them’, he points out.

“Academic environments are uniform across countries.”

Simovski graduated from and defended his dissertation at Leningrad Polytechnical Institute (currently Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University) in Russia. Afterwards he worked in the field of space technology, doing research on low frequency electromagnetic processes in the Earth magneto plasma.

Simovski has also spent 17 years working as a professor of general physics in Saint Petersburg State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO). There he met Professor Sergei Tretyakov, who gave him the idea to switch from plasma electromagnetics to that of advanced materials. Later, Tretyakov and Professor Antti Räisänen encouraged Simovski to join them in Finland at the Department of Radio Science and Engineering. Simovski visited the department several times between 2002 and 2007 and finally came to stay in 2008.

‘I have worked in several international universities, from Paris to Hangzhou. I have felt comfortable in every single one of them due to the nature of the academic environment: the mentality and behaviour of academic people are to some extent uniform across different countries and universities’, Simovski says.

At Aalto, Simovski has high expectations for his fellow tenure track professors.

‘I have already cooperated with several of our new, young professors and found them to be active, interesting, and practical’, Simovski says.

Text: Anni Aarinen. Photo: Anni Hanén-Cajander.

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