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No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop, The Lion and the Mouse, VI century BC The "long and winding road" toward a PhD degree can only be walked if accompanied by amazing people. This five-year work would not have been possible without the help and support of many such people, to whom I will always be grateful and indebted. First, I would like to warmly thank my advisor, Prof. Andrea Alù, for believing in me and for guiding me throughout these years. The best decision of<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="https://doi.org/10.15781/t2zk56704">doi:10.15781/t2zk56704</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="https://fatcat.wiki/release/oyr6tomrkrdprmijbjysscpody">fatcat:oyr6tomrkrdprmijbjysscpody</a> </span>
more »... my professional life has been to enroll in UT Austin, and join the group of Dr. Alù. Andrea has been the best advisor and mentor a student can hope for, and I will always be indebted to him for his influence on my life and career. His dedication, energy, curiosity, kindness and passion set a great example to look up to, for all his students. He has taught me invaluable research skills and values, as well as the right mindset to be successful in the academic arena. I feel lucky and blessed to have been his PhD student. I also would like to warmly thank Prof. Nader Engheta for his endless support, mentorship and inspiration. Prof. Engheta is one of the smartest and kindest person I know, and his invaluable scientific and personal advice has played a great part in my success as a PhD student and in landing a top faculty job. I also truly enjoyed our several conversations at conferences on many diverse topics. Some of the results of our scientific collaboration are presented in this dissertation. I feel privileged to walk on the scientific path set by Prof. Alù, Prof. Engheta, and their "scientific forbearers", and carry on their legacy. vi Many thanks to Prof. Seth Bank and Prof. Elaine Li for their great support and advice, especially during my recent faculty job search. I am also thankful for the fruitful scientific collaboration with Prof. Elaine Li, which has led to interesting investigations and publications. Some of these results are reported here. In this context, many thanks also to Dr. Farbod Shafiei, with whom I have had the chance to collaborate and interact during part of this project. I would like to thank Prof. Femius Koenderink and his team at the FOM Institute AMOLF in Amsterdam for hosting me for a few months in 2015. I am thankful for the great time I spent there, and the nice interaction and discussions I had with his research group, especially with my officemates, Hugo Doeleman and Wouter den Hollander.
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