On April 21, Lee Young-Pak, a Professor in the Department of Physics at Hanyang University (HYU) became the recipient of the Sungbong Physics Prize, the most representative physics award in Korea, for his research on metamaterials.
Lee has been a significant figure in contemporary physics society. In fact, more than 630 Science Citation Index research papers are listed under his name. He served as the president of the Korean Physical Society and numerous other governmental science and technology branches such as the Applied Physics Department.
Lee said, “Simply put, the material provides a foundation for the invention of the ‘invisible cloak’ that we read about in fictional stories. The metamaterials help make detailed adjustments of electromagnetic wave paths, meddling with their refraction to hide the object covered by the materials. More research is needed to bring about the concept of the invisible cloak to reality, but some technologies using the material including improved protection of electromagnetic radiation are already bringing it closer to completion.” He said he hopes to transcend his study’s limit as a sole scientific theory and to promote industrial adaptation. “Metamaterials is an interesting topic to research because it is currently at the edge of becoming applied in reality. My goal is to be the first one in the whole world to make that happen,” Lee said, expressing his aspiration.
Professor Lee’s impressive achievements were made possible through his serious attitude and determination in his field. Despite his past experience with low research revenues that almost hampered his team’s scientific endeavors, he did not allow those financial shortcomings to extinguish his fiery passion and talent for research. “We panicked for just a short moment, until we came up with the alternative of minimizing costs by switching our research topics. We were thus able to carry on in the most difficult situations thanks to our perseverance and positive thinking which allowed us to get back on our feet to start again,” said Professor Lee.
As a successful physicist, he stressed the need for Korean researchers to aim for the highest goal: the Nobel Prize. “Korean physicists are gradually becoming competitive enough to reach the international pinnacles of their field. It would be fantastic if they were awarded with prizes that are meaningful in our everyday lives,” said Professor Lee.