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Research Interests

Since 1972, Professor Taflove has pioneered finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) computational solutions of the fundamental Maxwell's equations of classical electrodynamics.  FDTD solutions of Maxwell's equations have emerged as a primary means to solve the most complex scientific and engineering problems involving electromagnetic wave phenomena, devices, and systems across the spectrum. Currently, FDTD is the "go-to" tool to attack problems involving all things electromagnetic from ultralow-frequency geophysical phenomena spanning the entirety of Planet Earth, to microwaves radiating from smartphones or scattering from airplanes and missiles, all the way to visible light interacting at nanometer length scales with complex man-made metamaterials or with biological media such as DNA strands folded inside the nuclei of potentially lethal human cancer cells.

Continuing a collaboration that began in 2003, Prof. Taflove is working with Prof. Vadim Backman of Northwestern's Biomedical Engineering Department to develop novel biophotonics techniques aimed at the minimally invasive detection of deeply seated, early-stage human cancers.  This research could lead to a new paradigm in cancer screening where, for example, early-stage lung cancer could be reliably detected by analyzing a few cells brushed from the interior surface of a person's cheek, and early-stage ovarian cancer could be reliably detected by the same Pap smear that's been used for decades to detect only cervical cancer. Novel "chromatin-protection" therapies for cancer are a subject of intense interest, as well.

Education/Academic qualification

Electrical Engineering, PhD, Northwestern University

… → 1975

Electrical Engineering, MSEE, Northwestern University

… → 1972

Electrical Engineering, BSEE, Northwestern University

… → 1971

Research interests

  • Classical electrodynamics
  • Detect early stage colon
  • Finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) techniques and applications
  • High-density optical storage
  • Optical scattering
  • Visible light ultra-microscopy
  • pancreatic and lung cancer


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