Master of light receives the Annual Award

22 January 2019

Professor Sergey I. Bozhevolnyi is a pioneering figure in the field of nanooptics. The Russian-born Danish top-scientist is credited with identifying dozens of phenomena and concepts, and now he is the latest recipient of the Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award in Science and Technology 2019.

Sergey I. Bozhevolnyi has established himself as a world-leading researcher focusing on the interaction of light with nanostructures and the control of light at the subwavelength scale.

As the founding father of nanooptics on the international scene and affiliated with Danish universities for more than 25 years, Sergey I. Bozhevolnyi has made a significant contribution to Danish science.

About Sergey I. Bozhevolnyi

  • Born in 1955 in Russia
  • M. Sc. in Physics (1978) (Quant. Electronics), Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russia
  • Ph.D. in Physics (1981) (Integrated Optics), Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russia
  • Relocated to Denmark in 1991

  • Dr. Scient. (1998) (Near-Field Optics), University of Aarhus, Denmark

  • Assistant Professor (1992-1994), Associate Professor (1994-2002) and Professor (2003-2010), Aalborg University
  • Associate Research Professor (1998-1999), Technical University of Denmark
  • Professor and Head of the Centre for SDU Nano Optics, Mads Clausen Institute, University of Southern Denmark (2008-present).

Read more about Sergey I. Bozhevolnyi, SDU

He is Head of the Centre for Nano Optics, Mads Clausen Institute, University of Southern Denmark – and the latest recipient of the Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award in Science and Technology.

 “We are proud to be able to recognise as brilliant a researcher as Sergey I Bozhevolnyi. His ability to carry out world-class basic research has given rise to a wealth of applications that may prove critical for the development of new nano and quantum technologies. There is good reason to be proud that Professor Bozhevolnyi has chosen to carry out his research at Danish universities,” says Jens Kann-Rasmussen, Chair, VILLUM FONDEN.

Highly cited pioneer and master of light

Professor Sergey I. Bozhevolnyi has transformed his specific field of research through a series of groundbreaking papers. When he began his research in the late 1990s, only a handful of papers about nano-optics had been published.

Today, more than 5,000 papers about the topic are published each year, many of which cite Professor Bozhevolnyi’s publications, and which is why he, for the second year running, is ranked by Clarivate Analytics as one of the world’s most cited researchers. He is truly a pioneer and master of light.

Sergey I. Bozhevolnyi receives The Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award 2019. Photo: Simon Knudsen

“I am grateful for this tremendous accolade, and honoured to be added to the long list of excellent researchers who received the Annual Award before me. This is something I never imagined would happen when I came to Denmark 27 years ago,” Professor Bozhevolnyi says.

Solar panels, nanocolours and quantum computing

Sergey I. Bozhevolnyi’s research has paved the way for remarkable new phenomena and possibilities in the development of nanophotonic components.

The projects he and his research team at SDU Nano Optics are working on include using metallic nanostructures as a highly efficient means of converting light into electricity. Their findings could lead to the development of a new way to make solar panels.

Their research has also broken new ground when it comes to controlling circuits at the nanoscale, which could prove decisive for the development of quantum computing.

“Information is sent over the internet at the speed of light, but your computer processes it with slow electronic circuits. That creates a bottleneck we are trying to eliminate,” Professor Bozhevolnyi says.

Professor Bozhevolnyi’s research has also shown new ways of colouring without dye or pigment using nanostructures to induce structural colours. Structural colouring is the production of colour by surfaces that have microstructure fine enough to interfere with visible light – a process seen in nature in peacock feathers and butterfly wings. 

With a resolution of over 100,000 pixels per inch, this process has an endless number of potential applications, including massively reducing the amount of space it takes to store large amounts of data.

The man who makes the magic happen

Portrait of Sergey I. Bozhevolnyi


The Annual Award was presented at a ceremony on January 23, 2019 in Copenhagen. Jens Kann-Rasmussen, Chair of VILLUM FONDEN with Sergey I. Bozhevolnyi.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Thomas Bjørnholm
Executive Chief Scientific Officer, professor, VILLUM FONDEN
+45 28 75 18 35


Professor Thomas Bjørnholm is responsible for the foundation’s research programmes in technical and natural sciences.
Previously Thomas Bjørnholm was Prorector for Research and Innovation and Deputy Rector at the University of Copenhagen with overall responsibility for research and innovation across all disciplines at the university.

He is a professor of Materials Chemistry and the founding director of the Nano-Science Center at the University of Copenhagen.

Thomas Bjørnholm is a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences and he has served on numerous boards and committees.

As a scientist, he has published more than 200 articles in scientific journals and books including contributions to the highly-recognized journals Nature and Science. He has given more than 150 invited talks at conferences and research institutes around the world and received research awards, including the Ole Rømer Foundation Award, the Ellen & Niels Bjerrum Award and gold medal, and the Director Ib Henriksen Award.

See more extensive CV