Dustin Kleckner

Office phone: (773) 702-0413

Curriculum Vitae
James Franck Institute
University of Chicago
929 E. 57th St. / GCIS E027
Chicago, IL 60637


I'm a post-doc in Physics at the University of Chicago, working with professors William Irvine and Sid Nagel. My current focus is on the effects of geometry and topology on soft matter and fluid systems.

Knotted fields appear in many contexts: fluids, super-fluids, plasmas, electro-magnetic fields, etc. In each case the topology, or "knottedness," of field lines is conserved under the right circumstances, providing suprising connections between otherwise unrelated fields. Recently, we have succeeded in generating knotted fluid vortices in the laboratory for the first time. Although the idea of tying a knot in a vortex ring (like a smoke or bubble ring) originated with Lord Kelvin over a century ago, experimental difficulties had previously limited physicists to theoretical studies. We have overcome these limitations by using cutting edge technology—3D printers and high speed cameras—to generate vortices with arbitrary topology and to follow their geometric and topological evolution. Due to their simplicity and accessibility, knotted vortices are an ideal model system for, e.g., allowing us to study the precise way in which knots untie themselves in a real physical field.

Popular descriptions of my work on knotted vortices were recently featured on NPR's Science Friday [audio, video], and the UChicago News site. An image from our research also appeared on the cover of Nature Physics.

Before coming to the University of Chicago, I worked in the field of Quantum Optics in Dirk Bouwmeester's group at UCSB. My PhD thesis was an experimental and theoretical study of micro-optomechanical systems.


A short video about vortex knots made for the 2013 APS Divison of Fluid Dynamics Gallery of Fluid Motion. This video was the winner of a Milton Van Dyke Award.

[The complete video (including a higher resolution version) can be downloaded from the arXiv.]

A high-speed 3D reconstruction of a trefoil vortex knot going through several vortex reconnection events (one of which is zoomed in). Intended to be viewed with red-cyan 3D glasses.

[Direct Download]


Optomechanical trampoline resonators,” Dustin Kleckner, Brian Pepper, Evan Jeffrey, Petro Sonin, Susanna M. Thon, and Dirk Bouwmeester, Optics Express 19, 19708 (2011). [PDF]
Micro-Optomechanical Systems for Quantum Optics,” Dustin Kleckner, UCSB Doctoral Thesis, March 2010. [PDF]
Polychromatic Photonic Quasicrystal Cavities,” Susanna M. Thon, William T. M. Irvine, Dustin Kleckner, and Dirk Bouwmeester, Physical Review Letters 104, 243901 (2010). [PDF]
Diffraction Limited High Finesse Optical Cavities,” Dustin Kleckner, William T. M. Irvine, Sumant S. R. Oemrawsingh, and Dirk Bouwmeester, Physical Review A 81, 043814 (2010). [PDF]
Creating and verifying a quantum superposition in a micro-optomechanical system,” Dustin Kleckner et al., New Journal of Physics 10, 095020 (2008). [PDF]
Sub-kelvin optical cooling of a micromechanical resonator,” Dustin Kleckner and Dirk Bouwmeester, Nature 444, 75 (2006). [PDF]
See also: Nature Podcast, November 2nd, 2006 [MP3, transcript]
High Finesse Opto-Mechanical Cavity with a Movable Thirty-Micron-Size Mirror,” Dustin Kleckner et al., Physical Review Letters 96, 173901 (2006). [PDF]