The theoretical physicist receives the prize in honour of his contributions to nano-optics, which explores how light behaves on a scale of one billionth of a metre, and to the field of metamaterials - man-made materials with unusual properties that can be manipulated and used for potentially transformative impacts.
The Kavli Prize honours scientists for outstanding research in the fields of nanoscience, astrophysics and neuroscience. Sir John shares the $1m Nanoscience Prize with Thomas Ebbesen from the University of Strasbourg and Professor Stefan Hell from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry.
"I am delighted and greatly honoured to receive the Kavli Prize," said Professor Sir John Pendry.
"I'm also delighted for my joint award winners, Thomas Ebbesen and Stefan Hell who are also friends of mine. It is just wonderful that this Prize is rewarding optics research more than 150 years after Maxwell's equations when the great Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell first set out his equations governing how light moves."
Professor Arne Brataas, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and chairman of the Kavli Nanoscience Prize Committee, said:
"Thomas W. Ebbesen, Stefan W. Hell, and John B. Pendry have independently advanced our ability to ‘see' nano-scale objects using visible light. They have greatly advanced our understanding of nano-optics and the applications of their insights promise to have an enduring benefit to a wide range of fields from physics and chemistry to the biological and biomedical sciences."
The winners will receive their awards from the King of Norway at an award ceremony in Oslo this September.