Physics and technologies of light at the nanoscale
The research activities of this thematic area encompass the realization of innovative inorganic and organic photonic nanomaterials, the experimental study and modelling of the optical properties of the obtained nanostructures, and the design and realization of photonic and optoelectronic devices spanning from UV to Terahertz (THz) spectral ranges.
Semiconducting nanowires, 2D materials and heterostructures, nanostructures with engineered defects, hybrid systems and nanofibers constitute powerful building blocks for controlling light at nanoscale, allowing light to be generated and detected with nanoscale spatial resolution, to be confined to subwavelength volumes by coupling to plasmon resonances of the nanostructures, and guided to macroscopic distances with minimal propagation losses through dielectric nanowaveguides and networks of nanofibers.
Nanostructured materials are also being designed for the control of the properties of light, such as the intensity, polarization and propagation direction. Examples are light-responsive 3D structures for light-by-light modulation of the intensity and polarization, and optomechanical systems for the dynamical control of light polarization properties through engineered suspended metasurfaces.
In the THz frequency range, miniaturized quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) with various architectures and properties of the output beams are being developed, as well as nanostructured detectors for THz radiation with high sensitivity and fast response times based on semiconducting nanowires, 2D materials and heterostructures. Other related research activities include near-field THz microscopy, quantum metrology, THz laser frequency combs and THz optomechanics.
Excitonic effects, which may lead to novel phases of matter such as the excitonic insulator, are investigated theoretically using powerful computational tools.
Overall, the combination of nanomaterials with targeted optical properties and of innovative architectures of the photonic devices are opening new directions for applications in technologies such as optical diagnostics, intelligent labels, high-resolution microscopy, additive manufacturing, quantum optical sensing and metrology, quantum communication and quantum information.