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15 August 2023

PhD student wins prize for outreach

Vittorio Aita has been awarded the Alan Michette Prize recognising his significant contributions to physics outreach and departmental life.

Vittorio Aita Optics Lab

The Prize was established in 2015 to commemorate Professor Alan Michette, a long-standing member of the Department of Physics and acting Head of Department when he unexpectedly died in May 2013. The prize is awarded to a student in physics who has contributed significantly to the outreach activities or the life of the Department of Physics.

Vittorio's research focuses on vector vortex beams, light that has a twist or a swirling pattern to it, similar to a whirlpool or a tornado. He investigates how this kind of light interacts with specially engineered materials called metamaterials. Metamaterials are designed to have properties not found in nature, and by changing the properties, the light can be controlled and manipulated in a variety of ways.

Beyond his research, Aita has displayed a commitment to science outreach and serves as the president for SPIE Lions at King's, a student chapter that plays a critical role in fostering future leaders of optics and photonics.

He recently interviewed Nobel laureate Donna Strickland for a podcast, discussing everything from science to sci-fi, to the significance of outreach and how a Nobel prize winner relaxes.

He has also participated in outreach events, including Guiding Lights at the Science Gallery London, and Great Exhibition Road Festival and Imperial Lates at Imperial College London.

Vittorio's recognition through the Alan Michette Prize is a well-deserved acknowledgement of his contributions to the scientific community at King's and further afield and the communication of science to the member of the public.

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