John D. Joannopoulos was born in New York, NY, on April 26, 1947. He received his B.A. and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1968 and 1974, respectively. He has been on the Faculty of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as Assistant Professor of Physics (1974), Associate Professor of Physics (1978), Professor of Physics (1983) and was awarded the Francis Wright Davis Professor of Physics Chair in 1996. He has served as Divisional Associate Editor of Physical Review Letters, member of the Editorial Board of Reviews of Modern Physics, and since 2006 is the Director of the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at MIT. In 2009, Professor Joannopoulos was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
The research of Professor Joannopoulos spans two major directions. The first is devoted to creating a realistic and microscopic theoretical description of the properties of material systems. His approach is fundamental to predicting geometric, electronic and dynamical structure, ab-initio—that is, given only the atomic numbers of the constituent atoms as experimental input. Ab-initio investigations are invaluable because they can stand on their own, complement experimental observations, and probe into regimes inaccessible to experiment. The second major direction involves the development of a new class of materials called photonic crystals, which are designed to affect the properties of photons in much the same way that semiconductors affect the properties of electrons. These materials provide a new dimension in the ability to control and mold the flow of light.
He is the author or coauthor of over 500 refereed scientific journal articles, three textbooks on Photonic Crystals, and holds over 50 issued U.S. Patents. He is also co- founder of 4 startup companies: OmniGuide Inc., Luminus Devices Inc., WiTricity Corporation and Typhoon RTDS Inc.
Professor Joannopoulos is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the American Physical Society (1983) and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2002). He has been an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (1976–1980) and John S. Guggenheim Fellow (1981–1982). He is the recipient of the Student Council Graduate Teaching Award (1991), the William Buechner Teaching Prize (1996), the David Adler Award of the American Physical Society (1997), and the School of Science Graduate Teaching Award (2002). Since 2003, he has been recognized as one of the Thompson ISI most Highly Cited Researchers.