Professor Richard Blaikie
Professor Richard Blaikie's research may look at small things, but is large in terms of ground breaking technology.
Professor Blaikie (Electrical and Computer Engineering) has a strong interest in the behaviour of light at sub-wavelength scales. 'The wavelengths of visible light vary from 400-750 nanometres (one nanometre is a millionth of a millimetre), so controlling this light at scales much smaller than this allows a realm of "nano-optics" to be entered using visible light,' he explains.
Professor Blaikie helps to answer key questions like: can we 'see' nano-scale objects (atoms and molecules) using visible light? Can we design and engineer nano-scale systems with visible light?
Examples of Professor Blaikie's most significant works to date in this field include his development of so-called Evanescent Near-field Optical Lithography (ENFOL) to demonstrate nano-scale printing (lithography) using visible light - and his more recent experimental demonstration of a silver 'superlens'.
This structure allows nano-scale images to be manipulated, and confirms a controversial theory proposed in 2000 by Sir John Pendry of Imperial College in London. This work was highlighted in a 2005 New Scientist article giving a historical overview of optical sciences that included luminaries such as Descartes, Snell and Maxwell.
One of Professor Blaikie's more unusual projects was to work with Adidas using nanotechnology to create an unique All Blacks jersey. The jersey was made using a single thread that had the names of 100,000 patriotic Kiwis on it. The thread was used for embroidering the silver fern logo on the special jersey that was presented to the All Blacks as they competed for the Bledisloe Cup in 2009.
Professor Blaikie is also currently the Director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, a multi-institutional New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence. This is named after Alan MacDiarmid, the New Zealander who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2000 for his discovery of conducting polymers, plastics that can be made to conduct electricity.
A lecturer who is described by students as being very impressive, Professor Blaikie says: 'Teaching is a vital part of being an academic, and I want to undertake this part of my job with the same level of rigour and commitment to excellence that I hope I bring to my research.'