In the Nanophotonics cluster we aim at understanding and controlling light-matter interactions in nano-structured media and using this knowledge for demonstrating and exploring new types of opto-electronic devices.
The continuous push for smaller and faster devices with new or additional functionalities, e.g. for applications in communication and sensor systems, is a strong motivation for our activities and at the same time the developments within nanotechnology and nanoscience offer unique possibilities for exploring new and interesting material and device physics. We emphasize experimental as well as theoretical research, and cover the range from fabrication, over fundamental physics, to demonstration and investigation of devices, e.g. in high-speed communication systems.
Nanostructuring of materials have opened up a number of new possibilities for manipulating and enhancing light-matter interactions, thereby improving fundamental device properties. Low-dimensional semiconductors, like quantum dots, enables one to catch the electrons and control the electronic properties of a material, while photonic crystal structures allow to synthesize the electromagnetic properties. These technologies may, e.g., be employed to make smaller and better lasers, sources that generate only one photon at a time, for applications in quantum information technology, or miniature sensors with high sensitivity. The phenomenon of slow light propagation is an important example of a fundamental physical effect that can be used to “squeeze much more out” of the materials.
The incorporation of metallic structures into the medium allows one to exploit plasmonic effects and adds further possibilities for manipulating the propagation of electromagnetic waves. In particular, this allows sub-wavelength localisation of the electromagnetic field and, by sub/wavelength structuring of the material, novel effects like negative refraction, e.g. enabling super lenses, may be realized. The appearance of such metamaterials may signify our – slow – transition into a new era in research and technology, where we are limited mainly by our ability to understand, model and synthesize new structures rather than by fabrication and characterization limitations.