Squeezing light with nano antennas
Managing Director of Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat
University of Würzburg
Please explain your research in simple words
Light-matter interaction ist at the heart of sensing, single photons light sources and many connected applications. I work on improving light-matter interaction by means of optical antennas, metallic nano particles designed to couple to photons and route them to supersmall volumes with high field strengths. What this means and how this can be achieved will be the topic of teh next week.
Monday - What is an optical antenna? How did I get to work on these.
Tuesday - What to do with an optical antenna.
Wednesday - Tools of the trade: Gold flakes for breakfast
Thursday - Tools of the trade: ion beam milling
Friday - Tools of the trade: algorithms to solve and optimize antenna geometries
Saturday - Outreach stuff: fancy pictures and the oath of getting visible.
What can the followers expect in your curation week?
How did you end up in your current research field?
Of course it wasn't planned. After finishing my diploma in Wuerzburg I has some ideas, where to to my thesis. However both intended working groups where ful at the time and there was this new professor Bert Hecht at our institute. I asked him to start out with learning how to simulate optical antennas and to gather the basic knowledge for the whole new group. Worked out super well. So I stayed for a PhD thesis and got to the experimental side of nano antennas. And as one can imagine I stayed in the field!
My structures are nano. The typical optical antenna, which is resonant to visible light is a golden nano rod with a length of 100 nm and a diameter of 10 nanometer. By the way this is the building block of the nowadays famous meta materials. Larger areas of nano-structured gold are for example also used as a substrate for SERS - surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy - despite being used commercially since a few decades still an area of active research.
How and where does your research fall in the domain of materials/nano science?
Which research project are you most proud of and could you explain it in simple words in the section we call #InOtherwords?
One variation of the ominous AI is called evolutionary optimization: generations of individuals fight with each other to pass their properties to the successive generation and improve by that - and by mutation. I developed a method to use this concept for optical antennas numerically, but with geometrical constraints to allow the fabrication of the resulting antennas. This is cool in itself, however, I was also possible to learn about the underlying physics for one specific task. Now I try this also for other tasks which can be performed by optical antennas
Better help with administration, less pressure to publish or perish, more public support
If you had 3 wishes to improve your research experience, what would you ask for (not promising anything here!)?
What are you most looking forward to in the next 3 months?
Starting out a big collaboration due to a MSCA individual fellowship with the Politecnico in Milano. (Okay it starts in May, but this is the thing!)
How healthy are nano particles and often also how to get results into industrial fabrication.