Ad Lagendijk

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Personal Details

Last Name: Lagendijk
First Name: Ad
Date of Birth: 18-11-1947
Place of Birth:    Zwanenburg (Haarlemmermeer, The Netherlands)


1954 - 1960 Openbare School 10, Badhoevedorp
1960 - 1965 Haarlemmermeer Lyceum, Badhoevedorp
1965 - 1968 Bachelor chemistry, University of Amsterdam (UvA)
1968 - 1970 Master Physical Chemistry, UvA
1970 - 1973    PhD student Laboratory for Physical Chemistry of the UvA

Academic degrees

1968 Bachelor chemistry, UvA
1970 Master (doctoraal, with distinction) physical chemistry, UvA
1974    PhD, physical chemistry, UvA

PhD thesis

Title: An ESR study of induced defects in StrTiO3
Advisor:    J. D. W. van Voorst
Date: May 1974

Employment history


1968 - 1970     Practical course assistant, UvA
1970 - 1973 Faculty member (3-year contract), Lab. for Physical Chemistry, UvA
1973 - 1975 Postdoc Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen (UIA), Wilrijk, Belgium
1975 - 1980 Tenured faculty member UIA
1980 - 1984 Tenured faculty member Natuurkundig Laboratorium UvA
1984 - Professor of physics at UvA
1987 - 1997 Head Department of Atomic Physics FOM-Instituut AMOLF, Amsterdam
2001 - Professor of physics at University of Twente
2006 - Group leader Photon Scattering at FOM Institute AMOLF

Visiting scientist, visiting professor

1974    Sommer period at Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago, Illinois, USA
1979 Summer at UCLA, invited by Prof. Ray Orbach
1980 Six month period visiting group of Prof. Isaac F. Silvera at the Natuurkundig Laboratorium, UvA
2007 Visiting Professor École Normale Supérieure in Paris (Lab. Pierre Aigrain)
2014 Visiting professor Institut Langevin, ParisTech in Paris


1991 Physics Lezing prize
1995     Harvard Loeb lecturer
1996 - Distinguished University professor of the UvA
1997 - Fellow of the American physical Society (APS)
1998 - Member of Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences
2002 NWO Spinoza prize
2007 - Fellow European Optical Society (EOS)

Scientific results

Long term senior collaborators (alphabetical)

  • A. P. Mosk
  • H. De Raedt
  • R. Sprik
  • B. A. van Tiggelen
  • A. Tip
  • W. L. Vos
  • G. H. Wegdam
  • D. S. Wiersma


World leader

In the field of propagation of light in disordered media (experiment and theory) AL is a pioneer and world leader. This field has grown enormously gained importance due to its highly multidisciplinary character. AL played a major role in the growth of this field. His work has been highlighted several times in Physics Today and further acknowledged by the invitation to write the feature article of the Physics Today August 2009 issue, dedicated to the most important concept in the physics of disorder: Anderson Localization. In the following a selection will be made of the most important contributions.

  • Transverse localization: AL predicted a new form of localization of light: "Transverse localization of light" (Phys. Rev. Lett. 62, 47-50 (1989)). His prediction was recently confirmed experimentally by Moti Segev et al. (Nature 446, 52 (2007)) and highlighted in Physics Today, May 2007 issue.
  • Weak localization:"" Group of ASL was the first ever (Phys. Rev. Lett. 55, 2692-2695 (1985) to observe weak localization of light (enhanced back-scattering) - independently also observed by Prof. Georg Maret. The coherent backscattering of waves is an interference effect that survives in multiple scattering. This milestone has opened a whole new area of research and has stimulated many workers in different fields. After our pioneering work the observation of coherent back scattering has turned into an industry, with experiments performed with light waves, sound waves, microwaves, polaritons, and with cold gasses. AL was invited to write a column in Physics Today about my discovery.
  • Light slowed down: AL group was the first to predict and to observe extreme slowing down of light in a disordered material (Phys. Rev. Lett. 66, 3132-3135 (1991)). These results were highlighted in the Research and Discovery section of Physics Today, June 1991, p 17-19. At first our findings were met with scepsis and opposition, but five years later, this discovery has become part standard textbook material.
  • Light localized: In Nature (Nature 390, 671-673 (1997) I announced, in collaboration with a group in Florence, the observation of localization of light. The result was put on the front cover (See left: our picture and our text on cover). Sajeev John wrote a News and Views article in that issue to highlight our results. (Nature 390 page 661-662 (1997).
  • Random lasers: Group AL made decisive contributions to the field of random lasers. Even the term Random Lasers was coined by the group. (see Physics World, January 1990, page 33; We recently published the first paper on the determination of the spatial size of a mode in a random laser ( Phys. Rev. Lett. 98, 143901 (2007).
  • Density of states: Group AL was the first to introduce the concept of local density of states (LDOS) in the field of photonic crystals, Europhys. Lett. 35, 265 (1996). With their theory they showed that a strong spatial variation in the lifetime of emitters could be expected, well before a photonic bandgap is achieved.
  • Additional discoveries:: Group AL made major contributions to the observation of spatial and frequency correlations, including the first discovery of long-range correlations (Phys. Rev. Lett. 64, 2787-2790 (1990)). AL invented the concept of internal reflection of diffuse waves. The discovery of multifractality of Anderson localized sound wave was recently reported by our group, in collaboration with groups from Manitoba (Canada) and from Grenoble. ( Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 155703 (2009)).
  • Early work: In 1975 AL started as a postdoc in Antwerp a new and successful research effort on the magnetic resonance of one-dimensional magnetic systems. He developed a new theory, predicted several new resonances, built new microwave cavities and discovered the resonances experimentally. He worked successfully on computer simulation of quantum systems with path integrals with Hans De Raedt. Together they were the first to solve a Fermion lattice model (acknowledged in Physics Today, Research and Discovery). In addition they made major contributions to the behavior of small polarons. After moving to Amsterdam, and switching to optics, group AL performed pioneering work on femto-second electron dynamics.


Number of papers:   > 400
Number of citations:   15396
h-index:       67

Numbers obtained from Google Scholar.

Numbers from Web of Science slightly lower.

For publication list see public Googel Scholar profile

Public Google Scolar profile of AL


(UvA means University of Amsterdam

and UT means University of Twente)

1    Defendant: R. van Kemp
Title: Magnetic resonance studies of the oxygen-vacancy complex and interstitial chromium in silicon
co-advisor: C. A. J. Ammerlaan
Date of defense:     June 30, 1988, Amsterdam UvA.
2    Defendant: M. P. van Exter
Title: Ultra-fast spectroscopy of vibrational excitations and surface plasmons
Date of defense:    September 29, 1988, Amsterdam, UvA
3    Defendant: M. J. H. Baggen
Title: Vibrational dynamics of molecular dense phases at high pressures
Date of defense:    May 29, 1989, Amsterdam, UvA
4    Defendant: J. W. J. Verschuur
Title: Ionization and dissociation of NO and H2 in strong radiation fields
co-advisor: H.B. van Linden van den Heuvell
Date of defense: May 31, 1989, UvA, Amsterdam
5    Defendant: M. Pont
Title: The behavior of atomic hydrogen in superintense, high frequency laser fields
co-advisor: M. Gavrila
Date of defense:     February 28, 1990, Amsterdam, UvA.
6    Defendant: P. de Vries
Title: Trottering through quantum physics
co-advisor: H. de Raedt
Date of defense:     May 7, 1991, Amsterdam, UvA
7    Defendant: M. B. van der Mark
Title: Propagation of light in disordered media: a search for Anderson localization
Date of defense:     June 14, 1990, Amsterdam, UvA.
8    Defendant: H. J. Bakker
Title: Time-resolved vibrational spectroscopy with picosecond infrared pulses
Date of defense:     October 1, 1991, Amsterda, UvA.
9    Defendant: P. C. M. Planken
Title: Generation and application of ultrashort infrared pulses
Date of defense:     October 2, 1991, Amsterda, UvA.
10    Defendant: R. H. M. Groeneveld
Title: Femtosecond spectroscopy on electrons and phonons in noble metals
co-advisor: co-advisor: R. Sprik
Date of defense:     June 3, 1992, Amsterdam, UvA.
11    Defendant: B. A. van Tiggelen
Title: Multiple scattering and localization of light
co-advisor: co-advisor: A. Tip
Date of defense:     September 29, 1992, Amsterda, UvA.
12    Defendant: R. Kroon
Title: Picosecond spectroscopy on vibrational excitations and excitons in condensed matter
co-advisor: R. Sprik
Date of defense:     October 27, 1993, Amsterda, UvA.
13    Defendant: P. N. den Outer
Title: Multiple light scattering in random discrete media.

Coherent backscattering and imaging

Date of defense:     May 15, 1995, Amsterda, UvA.
14    Defendant: J. F. de Boer
Title: Optical fluctuations on the transmission and reflection of mesoscopic systems
Date of defense:     September 20, 1995, Amsterda, UvA.
15    Defendant: M.J.P. Brugmans
Title: Relaxation kinetics disordered dense phases
Date of defense:     November 16, 1995, Amsterda, UvA.
16    Defendant: D. S. Wiersma
Title: Light in strongly scattering and amplifying random media
co-advisor: M.P. van Albada
Date of defense:     November 21, 1995, Amsterdam, UvA
17    Defendant: G. M. Lankhuijzen
Title: Ionization dynamics of Rydberg atoms in electric fields
co-advisor: L. D. Noordam
Date of defense:     March 14, 1997, Amsterda, UvA.
18    Defendant: D. V. van Coevorden
Title: Light propagation in ordered and disordered media
co-advisor: co-advisor: A. Tip
Date of defense:     May 14, 1997, Amsterdam, UvA.
19    Defendant: M. Kroon
Title: Structure and formation of a gel of colloidal discs
co-advisor: co-advisor G. H. Wegdam
Date of defense:     September 16 1998, Amsterdam, UvA
20    Defendant: H. J. Kop
Title: Time-resolved interferometry on metals and disordered systems
co-advisor: co-advisor R. Sprik
Date of defense:     October 20, 1998, Amsterda, UvA.
21    Defendant: S. Woutersen
Title: Femtosecond vibrational dynamics in hydrogen-bonded systems
co-advisor: H. Bakker
Date of defense:     June 1, 1999, Amsterdam, UvA.
22    Defendant: M. Megens
Title: Structure and fluorescence of photonic colloidal crystals
co-advisor: co-advisor W. L. Vos
Date of defense:     November 9, 1999, Amsterda, UvA.
23    Defendant: F. J. P. Schuurmans
Title: Light in complex dielectrics
Date of defense:     December 2, 1999, Amsterda, UvA.
24    Defendant: D .O. Riese
Title: Fluid dynamics in charge stabilized colloidal suspensions
co-advisor: G. H. Wegdam
Date of defense:     December 4, 2000, Amsterdam, UvA
25    Defendant: G. van Soest
Title: Experiments on random lasers
Date of defense:     December 4, 2001, Amsterdam, UvA.
26    Defendant: J. Gómez Rivas
Title: Light in strongly scattering semiconductors; diffuse transport and Anderson localization
co-advisor: R. Sprik
Date of defense:     April 16, 2002, Amsterdam, UvA.
27    Defendant: W. V. Meyer
Title: Volume and interface studies of complex liquid media
co-advisor: G.H. Wegdam
Date of defense:     December 13, 2002, Amsterdam, UvA.
28    Defendant: M. Wubs
Title: Quantum optics and multiple scattering in dielectrics
Date of defense:     June 11, 2003, Amsterdam, UvA.
29    Defendant: A. F. Koenderink
Title: Emission and transport of light in photonic crystals
Date of defense:     June 27, 2003, Amsterdam, UvA.
co-advisor: W. L. Vos
30    Defendant: B. P. J. Bret
Title: Multiple light scattering in porous gallium phosphide
Date of defense:     July 14, 2005, Enschede, UT.
31    Defendant: T. Savels
Title: Scattering lasers
Date of defense:     February 14, 2007, Amsterdam, UvA.
co-advisor: A. P. Mosk
32    Defendant: K. L. van der Molen
Title: Experiments on scattering lasers from Mie to random
Date of defense:     April 25, 2007, Enschede, UT.
33    Defendant: I. M. Vellekoop
Title: Controlling the propagation of light in disordered scattering media
Date of defense:     April 24, 2008, Enschede, UT.
co-advisor: A. P. Mosk
34    Defendant: B. C. Kaas
Title: Multiple scattering of waves in anisotropic random media
Date of defense:     September 25, 2008, Enschede, UT.
co-advisor: B. A. van Tiggelen
35    Defendant: E. G. van Putten
Title: Disorder-Enhanced Imaging with Spatially Controlled Light
Date of defense:     October 28, 2011, Enschede, UT.
co-advisor: A. P. Mosk
36    Defendant: S. Faez
Title: Universal wave phenomena in multiple scattering media
Date of defense:     September 16, 2011, Amsterdam, UvA.
37    Defendant: P. S. Scalia
Title: Optical noise and mesoscopic correlations in random media
Date of defense:     November 2, 2011, Amsterdam, UvA.
co-advisor: O. L. Muskens
38    Defendant: R. G. S. El-Dardiry
Title: Sources and gain in photonic random media
Date of defense:     June 20, 2012, Amsterdam, UvA.
39    Defendant: B. Gjonaj
Title: Digital plasmonics: from concept to microscopy
Date of defense:     July 4, 2012, Amsterdam, UvA.
40    Defendant: J. Aulbach
Title: Spatiotemporal control of light in trbid media
Date of defense:     September 20, 2013, Enschede, UT.

Services to scientific community


1990 - 2001 Editor Physics Letters A

International conferences


Together with Bart van Tiggelen and Diederik Wiersma AL organized the conference "Fifty years of Anderson Localization" in Paris in December 2008. -Speakers included Professors Thouless, Wölfle, John, and Inguscio.

Committee member

AL has been a member of numerous organizations, program committees of conferences, summer-schools and scientific boards (a.o. ETOPIM, OSA MetaMaterials, GDR/CNRS IMCODE, GDR/CNRS MesoImage)


  • Board of the Dutch Physical Society (for 4 years NNV)
  • Organizer Spring meeting of the Dutch Physical Society (NNV, 3 times)
  • Member overseeing Board Condensed Matter division of the Dutch physics foundation FOM (for 5 years)
  • Member of executive board of FOM (most influential position in Dutch physics, for 5 years)
  • Organizer of the main Dutch condensed matter meeting of FOM (Veldhoven) (2 times)
  • Member (often chairman) of at least six nomination committees for hiring new professors
  • Member overseeing board of FOM-Institute for Plasma Physics Rijnhuizen (for 2 years)
  • Director Van der Waals-Zeeman Instituut of Univ. of Amsterdam (for 1 year)
  • Member of the executive physics council Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW, for 3 years)
  • Member of KNAW overseeing board for physics (for 5 years)
  • Member of overseeing board of FOM-institute AMOLF (4 years)
  • Chairman of Lorentz-medal committee Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (2002)
  • Member of Lorentz-medal committee Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences KNAW (2010)
  • FWO (Belgian Science Foundation) member evaluation committee (for three years)

Science Survival


On the basis of experiences with junior scientists at the UvA, at UT and at AMOLF, in continous discussion with the senior group leaders AL has written a book: Survival Guide for Scientists

Amsterdam University Press, 2008, 215 pages,

It is a how-to advice on essential topics such as the foundations for writing scientific texts, presenting data and research information, and the writing and reading of collegial e-mails. Each section is organized by a collection of short rules, outlined and numbered in a logical order as self-explanatory pieces of information—allowing the reader the freedom to study any number of them in any desired order. These concrete guidelines, supplemented by an extensive index, makes it a unique book. Over 4000 copies sold


As a result of the book AL is regularly asked to give presentations on survival in science. Invitations of this kind incldued the Rotterdam Eye Hospital reopening, HBO-students in Groningen, Wetsus in Leeuwarden, medical students in Leiden, and "Verslavingszorg" students in Nijmegen.


AL has started and maintained the blog for junior scientists. This blog professional scientists write about their scientific life. Contributors are scientists in various stages of their career: from junior to senior. The aim is to supply scientists with tips on how to survive in science. This blog is a continuation of the book The Survival Guide for Scientists. The blog is popular between 500 and 1000 pageviews per day and is read and commented on by editors of high-impact journals



AL regulary participates in public scientific discussions. He contributes to, the newspaper NRC and his own blog interferenties


  • AL has been until 2004 a bi-weekly columnist for the newspaper Volkskrant for almost 11 years
  • In 2005 he was asked to write an essay for the journal Nature, about any subject he wanted. He decided to write a controversial essay, entitled "Pushing for Power" (Nature 438, 429 (2005)), criticizing the macho-culture of natural science.
  • Contributor to the Vrolijke Wetenschap of the VPRO,