A special edition of Physica B, published in February 2007, contained the Proceedings of ETOPIM7, the Seventh International Conference on the Electrical Transport and Optical Properties of Inhomogeneous Media.
ETOPIM7 was held at Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour Sydney from July 9-12 2006. There were also associated meetings and facility visits on July 13, and a very successful short course on Nano Plasmonics by Professor Mark Stockman on July 14. There were a total of 118 registered participants, including nine plenary speakers and twenty-two invited speakers drawn from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, Russia, Israel, China, France and Mexico. There were 96 oral presentations, and eight poster presentations. Given the increasing emphasis by institutions and funding bodies to support only travel to conferences by presenters, it was decided to create more presentation slots at ETOPIM7 by organizing the conference into two parallel sessions, apart from the two plenary talks which opened each day. This made for hard decisions sometimes as to which talk to attend, but was compensated by the opportunity to interact with other attendees over lunch, coffee breaks or at organized events.
ETOPIM7 continued the tradition of previous meetings of diversity around a common theme. The common theme is of course transport properties of structured materials, but the diversity stems from the whole range of circumstances in which composite structure plays an important role in determining system properties. Examples of this diversity were numerous, but include the photonic structures in metallic beetles, the lustre of Middle Age pottery, stealth technology for advanced aircraft and carbon nanotube textiles. It is a refreshing ETOPIM tradition that attendees are interested in and stimulated by composite science, whether the context is the one in which they are working, or one less familiar to them, and this tradition was in evidence in the lively discussions between participants at ETOPIM7.
By comparison with previous ETOPIM meetings, the topics which seemed to gain in importance at ETOPIM7 were surface plasmons, metamaterials and cloaking. The first two of these were represented in the program of ETOPIM6, but have certainly gained in strength in the intervening period. These three topics fit into the traditional ETOPIM strengths well, in that they are linked with fundamental issues of composite science, like the resonances which are the poles of the Bergman-Milton representation for transport properties. They have however gained importance because of our increasing ability to create structures on the micro and nano scales, and measure not only their transport properties but also their field distributions. As well, the requirement that light be confined in and interact strongly with nanostructures has renewed interest in the optics of metallic composites, since the wavelength of light in metals is diminished by the large magnitude of their complex refractive indices. It should also be noted that there were an encouraging number of presentations related to composites in environmental and natural systems, including even the human brain.
One of the plenary speakers, Professor Mattias Fink, unfortunately contracted a severe viral infection on his way to ETOPIM7, and although laid low by it, he presented results on techniques for achieving wave superresolution in the far field which were a major advance, and surprising even to the specialists in the audience.
At the closing session of ETOPIM7, it was decided to incorporate an ETOPIM Association, to provide continuity of presence between conferences. This means that the ETOPIM website (www.etopim.org) will be a focal point for dissemination of information of interest to the composite science community. The record of a discussion sponsored by the National Science Foundation on the Future Direction of the science of composite materials, which formed part of the closing session, is already located here.
The Australian Government, the US Defence Force (Asia) and The University of Sydney (various departments) underpinned the finances of the conference. Full acknowledgement of all our generous Sponsors is on the Sponsors page. Members of the international committee contributed to the nomination of invited speakers, as well as encouraging attendance and facilitating sponsorships. The smooth conference organization is a tribute to the professionalism and engagement of Ros Barrett-Lenard of Magic Touch Consultancies, as well as the contributions of the members of the local organizing committee. To these individuals and organizations we wish to express our sincere thanks.
Ross McPhedran, convenor
Professor of Physics,
The University of Sydney
The following phots may be downloaded as a record of the meeting