Faculty Directory
Allen Taflove

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech Room L349
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-491-4127Email Allen Taflove


Allen Taflove's Homepage


Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

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Ph.D. Electrical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (1975)

M.S. Electrical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (1972)

B.S. Electrical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (1971)

Research Interests

Since 1972, Prof. Taflove has pioneered theoretical approaches, algorithms, and applications of finite-difference time-domain computational solutions of the fundamental Maxwell's equations of classical electrodynamics.  In 1980, he coined the widely used descriptors "finite difference time domain" and "FDTD" (currently tallying more than 100,000 and 200,000 Google Scholar search results, respectively).  In 1990, he was the first person to be named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in the FDTD area.  Subsequently, he was the recipient of the 2010 Chen-To Tai Distinguished Educator Award of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society, and the 2014 IEEE Electromagnetics Award. His citation for the latter reads:  "For contributions to the development and application of finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) solutions of Maxwell's equations across the electromagnetic spectrum."  He is currently a Life Fellow of the IEEE and a Fellow of The Optical Society (OSA). His OSA Fellow citation reads: "For creating the finite-difference time-domain method for the numerical solution of Maxwell's equations, with crucial application to the growth and current state of the field of photonics."

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, i.e., literally, from ultralow-frequency geophysical electrodynamic phenomena spanning the entirety of Planet Earth to visible light interacting at nanometer length scales with metamaterials and plasmonic structures.  In May 2010, Nature Milestones|Photons identified Prof. Taflove as one of the two principal pioneers of numerical solutions of Maxwell's equations.  In January 2015, in a Special Issue marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Maxwell's equations, Nature Photonics prominently featured an interview with him dealing with FDTD's multi-decade development and its historical significance. In the interview's header, Nature Photonics identified Prof. Taflove as the "father of the finite-difference time-domain technique."

In Sept. 2012, Prof. Taflove's book, Computational Electrodynamics: The Finite-Difference Time-Domain Method was ranked as the 7th most-cited book in physics, according to the University of Rochester's Institute of Optics (ahead of books by three Nobel prize winners in physics).  At present, Taflove's book has 17,500 Google Scholar citations.

Currently, continuing a collaboration that began in 2003, Prof. Taflove is working with Prof. Vadim Backman of Northwestern's Biomedical Engineering Department.  Their research is aimed at the minimally invasive, early-stage detection of deadly cancers such as those of the colon, pancreas, lungs, and ovaries.  The techniques being pursued are based upon spectral analysis of light that is backscattered from histologically normal tissue located away from a neoplastic lesion in what has been termed the field effect.  This may 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.

Selected Publications

    A. Taflove, A. Oskooi, and S. G. Johnson, editors, Advances in FDTD Computational Electrodynamics: Photonics and Nanotechnology.  Norwood, MA: Artech House, 2013.  Web: <http://www.ece.northwestern.edu/ecefaculty/Allen1.html#Books>

    A. Taflove and S. C. Hagness, Computational Electrodynamics: The Finite-Difference Time-Domain Method, 3rd edition.  Norwood, MA: Artech House, 2005.  Web: <http://www.ece.northwestern.edu/ecefaculty/Allen1.html#Books>

    H. Subramanian, P. Pradhan, Y. Liu, I. R. Capoglu, X. Li, J. D. Rogers, A. Heifetz, D. Kunte, H. K. Roy, A. Taflove, and V. Backman, “Optical methodology for detecting histologically unapparent nanoscale consequences of genetic alterations in biological cells,” Proc. National Academy of Sciences USA, vol. 105, no. 51, pp. 20124-20129, Dec. 23, 2008.  Web: <http://www.ece.northwestern.edu/ecefaculty/taflove/Paper124.pdf>

    L. Cherkezyan, I. Capoglu, H. Subramanian, J. D. Rogers, D. Damania, A. Tafove, and V Backman, Interferometric spectroscopy of scattered light can quantify the statistics of subdiffractional refractive-index fluctuations, Physical Review Letters, vol. 111, 033903, July 19, 2013.  Web: <http://www.ece.northwestern.edu/ecefaculty/taflove/Paper143.pdf>

    D. Pile and A. Taflove, Numerical solution, Nature Photonics, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 5-6, Jan. 2015.  DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2014.305 Web: <http://www.eecs.northwestern.edu/images/nphoton.2014.305.pdf>