THE NANO-OPTICS GROUP
January 24, 2012
to the Nano-Optics group. We are an experimental
and theoretical research group at the University
of Rochester 's Institute
The Nano-Optics Group
studies optical interactions with matter on a subwavelength scale.
Topics of interest are near-field optical spectroscopy, single molecule
studies, and nanostructured materials for sensing applications.
Please see our Research web page
for more details.
What is Nano-Optics ?
Today we encounter
a strong trend towards nanoscience and nanotechnology. This
trend is motivated by the fact that as we move to smaller and
smaller scales the underlying physical laws change from macroscopic
to microscopic. The exploitation of quantum effects for technological
applications is the most obvious driving force behind the current
miniaturization. The recent rapid advances are due in large
part to our newly acquired ability to measure and manipulate
individual structures on the nanoscale (scanning probe techniques,
optical tweezers, high-resolution electron microscopes, ...
trend towards nanoscience and nanotechnology makes it necessary
to address the key issues of optics on the nanometer scale.
Since the diffraction limit does not allow us to focus light
to dimensions smaller than roughly half a wavelength, traditionally
it was not possible to interact selectively with nanoscale features.
In recent years several new approaches have been put forth to
'shrink' the diffraction limit (confocal microscopy) or to even
overcome it (near-field microscopy). For example, with our tip-enhancement
technique we are able to do Raman spectrocopy and multiphoton
fluorescence imaging with a spatial resolution of less than
20nm. To date, this is the highest optical resolution of a spectroscopic
The reason for
the hard effort to advance the field of optics to the nanometer
scale is the fact that the energy of light lies in the range
of electronic and vibrational transitions in matter. Therefore,
the interaction of light with matter renders unique information
about the structural and dynamical properties of matter. These
unique spectroscopic capabilities are of great importance for
the study of biological and solid-state nanostructures. We are
applying near-field optical techniques to probe complex semiconductor
nanostructures as well as individual protein molecules. We plan
to explore the possibility to optically interact with semiconductor
nanostructures on length scales smaller than the extent of their
quantum wavefunctions. Probing and manipulating these wavefunctions
might open up various exciting applications such as data storage
and optical switching based on quantum logic.
the broad spectrum of optics on the nanometer scale covering
technology and basic science. On the technological side, we
find topics like nanolithography and high density optical data
storage. On the basic sciences end, we might mention atom-photon
interactions in the optical near-field and their potential applications
for atom trapping and manipulation experiments. Compared with
free propagating light the optical near-field is enriched by
so-called virtual photons. These are the same sort of particles
responsible for molecular binding (van der Waals / Casimir forces)
and are therefore promising for selective probing of atomic
structures. The consideration of virtual photons in the field
of quantum optics will enlarge the range of fundamental experiments
Many research topics
in nanoscience are interdisciplinary in nature and must be addressed
with a collaborative effort. Therefore, we collaborate with many
different research groups and are open to new interactions.
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