Roberto Merlin was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He received the Licenciado en Ciencias Fisicas (M.S.) degree from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1973 and the Dr. rer. nat. (Ph.D.) degree from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, in 1978. His graduate advisor was Professor Manuel Cardona. After a postdoctoral position in the group of Professor Miles V. Klein at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he joined the Physics faculty of the University of Michigan in 1980. He became Associate Professor in 1985 and Full Professor in 1989. During 1993-1996, Merlin served as Associate Chair for Research and Facilities of the Department of Physics. Since 2000, he has held a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Merlin was a Visiting Professor at the Max-Planck-Institut FKF, Stuttgart, Germany in 1987, at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 1996, and at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France in 2007. In 1997, he held the Visiting Professor Iberdrola Chair at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain.
Merlin's research specialty is experimental condensed matter physics. His areas of expertise include various continuous wave and ultrafast optical techniques and, in particular, spontaneous and impulsive (stimulated) Raman spectroscopy. In the past several years, he has used light scattering to study a wide range of systems such as rare-earth magnetic semiconductors, mixed-valence compounds, transition-metal oxides, A15 superconductors, intercalated graphite and GaAs-AlAs superlattices. His current interests focus on the generation and control of coherent vibrational and electronic fields using ultrafast laser and x-ray pulses, and metamaterials. Merlin and collaborators pioneered experimental work on Fibonacci superlattices, the quantum-confined Pockels effect and squeezed phonons. Other significant contributions include the earliest light-scattering studies of interface phonons, folded acoustic modes and shallow impurities in GaAs/AlAs heterostructures, and the development of the technique of magneto-Raman scattering.
Merlin is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (1996), the Optical Society of America (2000), the von Humboldt Foundation (1987), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2007) and the Simons Foundation (2013). Other honors include the 2006 Frank Isakson Prize of the American Physical Society for Optical Effects in Solids and Lannin Lecturer (2002) at the Department of Physics, Pennsylvania State University. His service record includes Chair of the APS Forum on International Physics (1996-1997), Member of the APS Committee on International Freedom of Scientists (2002-2004) and General Chair of the Quantum Electronics and Laser Science Conference (2006). He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Springer Series in Solid State Sciences and the journal Solid State Communications, and a Divisional Associate Editor of Physical Review Letters.
Optical Probing of Ultrafast Electronic Decay in Bi and Sb with Slow Phonons, (J. J. Li, J. Chen, D. A. Reis, S. Fahy and R. Merlin), Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 047401 (2013).
GaP Based terahertz Time-domain Spectrometer Optimized for the 5-8 THz Range, (I. D. Vugmeyster, J. F. Whitaker and R. Merlin), Appl. Phys. Lett. 101, 181101 (2012).
Pinholes Meet Fabry-Pérot: Perfect and Imperfect Transmission of Waves Through Small Apertures, (R. Merlin), Phys. Rev. X 2, 031015 (2012).
Nonlinear Phononics as an Ultrafast Route to Lattice Control, (M. Först, C. Manzoni, S. Kaiser, Y. Tomioka, Y. Tokura, R. Merlin and A. Cavalleri), Nature Phys. 7, 854-856 (2011).
Metal Nanoparticle Ensembles: Tunable Laser Pulses Distinguish Monomer from Dimer Vibrations, (P. M. Jais, D. B. Murray, R. Merlin and A. V. Bragas), Nanolett. 111, 3685-3689 (2011).
Near-Field Plates: Metamaterial Surfaces/Arrays for Subwavelength Focusing and Probing, (A. Grbic, R. Merlin, E. M. Thomas and M. F. Imani), Proc. IEEE 99, 1806-1815 (2011).
Maxwell’s Fish-Eye Lens and the Mirage of Perfect Imaging, (R. Merlin), J. Opt. 13, 024017 (2011).
Observation of Insulating Nano-Islands in Ferromagnetic GaMnAs, (D. M. Wang, Y. H. Ren, P. W. Jacobs, S. Fahy, X. Liu, J. K. Furdyna, V. F. Sapega, and R. Merlin), Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 256401 (2009).
Metamaterials and the Landau-Lifshitz Permeability Argument: Large Permittivity Begets High-Frequency Magnetism, (R. Merlin), Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 106, 1693-1698 (2009).
Probing Unfolded Acoustic Phonons with X Rays, (M. Trigo, Y. M. Sheu, D. A. Arms, J. Chen, S. Ghimire, R. S. Goldman, E. Landahl, R. Merlin, E. Peterson, M. Reason and D. A. Reis), Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 025505 (2008).
Radiationless Electromagnetic Interference: Evanescent-Field Lenses and Perfect Focusing, (R. Merlin), Science 317, 927-929 (2007).