Approved FOM programme
|Executive organisational unit||AMOLF & BUW|
|Programme management||Prof.dr. L. Kuipers|
|Cost estimate||M€ 3.4|
- This research programme will exploit metal nanostructures to reach the ultimate limits of the spatial and temporal control of light: at a length scale of a mere fraction of the free-space wavelength, and a time scale approaching that of a single optical cycle.
- The programme should lead to a profound understanding of the fundamental limits of optical control at the nanoscale with plasmonic structures.
Background, relevance and implementation
The central goal of this research programme is to exploit metal nanostructures to reach the ultimate limits of the spatial and temporal control of light: at a length scale of a mere fraction of the free-space wavelength, and a time scale approaching that of a single optical cycle. Whereas the confinement of light in homogeneous media is governed by the diffraction limit, it has recently been demonstrated that, in certain geometries, light can be manipulated on a subwavelength scale through the intervention of surface plasmons. This has led to the rapidly emerging field of plasmonics, driven both by the intriguing behavior of light/surface plasmons at the nanoscale and by the wide scope for applications that opens up when this behavior is fully understood and its potential can be harnessed.
The programme aims to enter this new regime of photonics, termed plasmonics, by employing metallo-dielectric interfaces structured at the nanoscale. When such an interface is illuminated by a beam, the resulting surface-plasmon field will be highly structured on a scale far below that of the optical wavelength, carrying all sorts of optical singularities. The field will also be hugely enhanced, allowing us to explore nanoscale few-photon-nonlinear optics. Moreover, it is expected that the nonlinearity of the conduction electrons becomes directly accessible, due to the intrinsic coupling between light and the collective motion of the conduction electrons. This opens up the possibility of switching surface plasmons with surface plasmons on ultrafast (sub-fs) time scales that are only limited by the temporal dynamics of the surface plasmons themselves. As a result the ultimate control both in the temporal and spatial domain is simultaneously achieved. Essential to reach this goal is a full understanding of the underlying fundamental physics; this understanding presently shows large gaps.
The programme brings together experts from the FOM Institute AMOLF, the Free University in Amsterdam, Leiden University and Utrecht University who will closely work together to achieve both a greater understanding and a greater control of light. It is anticipated that this coherent, collaborative effort will lead to new concepts for the improvement of biosensors and the next generation solar cells.
The final evaluation of this programme will consist of a self-evaluation initiated by the programme leader and is foreseen for 2014.
Please find a research highlight that was achieved in 2013 within this FOM programme here.