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Materials Science, Optics and Applications

Sajeev John is a ''University Professor'' at the University of Toronto and Government of Canada Research Chair holder. He received his Bachelor's degree in physics in 1979 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University in 1984. His Ph.D. work at Harvard introduced the theory of classical wave localization and in particular the localization of light in three-dimensional strongly scattering dielectrics. From 1986-1989 he was an assistant professor of physics at Princeton University. While at Princeton, he co-invented (1987) the concept of photonic band gap materials, providing an easier route to his original conception (1984) of the localization of light. In the fall of 1989 he joined the senior physics faculty at the University of Toronto.

Professor John is the winner of the 2001 King Faisal International Prize in Science, which he shared with C. N. Yang. He is also the first ever winner of Ontario's Platinum Medal for Science and Medicine in 2002. Dr. John is the winner of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Quantum Electronics Award in 2007 for ''the invention and development of light-trapping crystals and elucidation of their properties and applications''. He is also the winner of the 2008 IEEE Nanotechnology Pioneer Award and the 2013 IEEE David Sarnoff Award. Prof. John was awarded the Killam Prize in Natural Sciences for 2014 by the Canada Council for the Arts. In 2017, he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada "For his revolutionary contributions to optical sciences, notably for his role in the development of new structures capable of harnessing the flow of light." In 2021, Prof. John was awarded the Herzberg Canada Gold Medal by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Dr. John is also the first ever winner of Brockhouse Canada Prize in 2004, which he shared with materials chemist Geoff Ozin for their ground-breaking interdisciplinary work on photonic band gap materials synthesis. In 2011, Prof. John was selected as a Thomson-Reuters Citation Laureate. Prof. John has been awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship (USA) and the Humboldt Senior Scientist Award (Germany). In 2007, Dr. John was awarded the C.V. Raman Chair Professorship of the Indian Academy of Sciences. Prof. John is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, the Royal Society of Canada, and a member of the Max-Planck Society of Germany.

Prof. John's other awards include the 2007 Brockhouse Medal for Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Physics, the 2004 Rutherford Medal of the Royal Society of Canada, the Killam Research Fellowship of the Canada Council for the Arts (1998-2000), the 1997 Steacie Prize of the National Research Council, the first ever McLean Fellowship at the University of Toronto and the Herzberg Medal of the Canadian Association of Physicists.

His external affiliations have included Adjunct Chair Professor at Soochow University in Suzhou China, Adjunct Professor at King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia, Guest Professor at Sun Yat Sen University in China, External Scientific Member of the Max Planck Institute for Microstructure Physics in Germany, Meyerhoff Visiting Professor at the Wiezmann Institute in Israel and Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

News Stories: Toronto Star, Physics Today, Maclean's Magazine, Maclean's ,   Edge Magazine: Trapping the Light Fantastic, CBC National News,  Physics Newsletter, CBC News,   CTV News,    Herzberg Canada Gold Medal,

Killam Lecture and Interview (MP3 Audio)

Quirks and Quarks Interview


The Changing Landscape of Universities and Science (2023 Conference "What are Universities For?") (YouTube Video)

Current research: Photonics, Nano-science, Solar energy harvesting, Bio-sensors for Medical Diagnostics, Room Temperature Bose-Einstein Condensation

Electromagnetic and electronic simulation software downloads

Phone: (416) 978-3459 Fax: (416) 978-2537 e-mail: john at


Research Interests and Contributions

Light Localization and Photonic Band Gap Materials

Photonic Band Gap Materials: Semiconductors of Light (YouTube Video)


Solar Energy Harvesting with Thin-Film Photonic Crystals

Photonic Crystals Increase Solar Cell Efficiency (YouTube Video)

Beyond 30% Conversion Efficiency in Silicon Solar Cells (YouTube Video)

Photovoltaics Team Web Page


Quantum Optics



Room Temperature Equilibrium Bose-Einstein Condensation



Medical Diagnostics in a Photonic-Band-Gap Lab-on-a-Chip



Multiple Light Scattering Spectroscopy and Random Lasing



Magnetism and Superconductivity








Research Group Members: Past and Present

Former Postdocs

  • Jian Wang
  • Puru Voruganti
  • Andrei Golubentsev
  • Manish Mehta
  • Tran Quang
  • Axel Muller-Groeling
  • Gendi Pang
  • Vladimir Stephanovich
  • Kurt Busch
  • Alongkarn Chutinan
  • Rongzhou Wang
  • Georg von Freymann
  • Dragan Vujic
  • Hiroyuki Takeda
  • Chongjun Jin
  • Ramy El-Ganainy
  • Guillaume Demesy
  • Alexei Deinega
  • Rongjuan Liu
  • Alagappan Gandhi
  • Khai Le
  • Jian-hua Jiang
  • David Hagenmuller
  • Sergey Eyderman
  • Wah-Tung Lau
  • Qingguo Du
  • Ibrahim Baydoun

Former Ph.D. Students

  • Timothy Chan
  • Artan Kaso
  • Neset Akozbek
  • Mona Berciu
  • Lucia Florescu
  • Marian Florescu
  • Ovidiu Toader
  • Nipun Vats
  • Mesfin Woldeyohannes
  • Chiranjeeb Roy
  • James Bauer
  • Shengjun Yang
  • Xun Ma
  • Pranai Vasudev
  • Stephen Foster
  • Abdullah Al-Rashid

Current Members

  • Kenny Yip
  • Sayak Bhattacharya
  • Xiwen Zhang
  • Griffin Schwartz
  • Sandip Bera
  • Krishnendu Dandapat
  • Sujoy Datta

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