Research

Nanophotonics and Metamaterials

The next photonic revolution will be fuelled by a dependence on radically new types of photonic materials called ‘metamaterials’. Metamaterials are artificial electromagnetic media with unusual and useful functionalities achieved by structuring on a sub-wavelength scale. Nanotechnology-enabled materials are now universally seen as a direction where the global economy will grow strongly in the 21st century. Our research programme, funded in part by an EPSRC Programme Grant, is at the core of this global movement.

We are developing a new generation of revolutionary switchable and active nanostructured photonic media to provide ground-breaking solutions for telecoms, energy and light generation, imaging, lithography, data storage, sensing, and security and defence applications. Our research advances the physics of the control, guiding and amplification of light in nanostructures and we are developing new nanofabrication techniques, hybridization processes, and procedures for the integration of novel metamaterial structures into waveguide and fibre environments.

Exploring advanced materials to solve societal challenges

We study and engage the changing balance of forces, structural transformations, light confinement and coherent effects at the nanoscale to create materials with properties not available in natural media and design them such that they can be controlled by external signals. Our ambition is, through better understanding the new physics of advanced materials structured on the nanoscale, to explore technological applications of reconfigurable photonic metamaterials.

Reconfigurable metamaterials provide a flexible platform for dynamically controlling metamaterial optical properties as the properties of virtually any metamaterial structure depend strongly on the spatial arrangement of its constituent parts. Dynamic, reversible tuning and switching of metamaterial properties can be achieved by harnessing thermally-, electrically, magnetically- and optically-generated forces on the nanoscale.

To ensure that the metamaterials we make are useful in the real world, we are developing structures that are compatible with low-cost production using high-resolution complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) fabrication techniques and nanoimprinting. This approach provides a powerful generic platform for achieving optical tunable metamaterials that can be operated at microwatt power levels and can provide continuous modulation of optical signals with megahertz bandwidth.

We believe that new nanotech-enabled photonic metadevices and metasystems will not only be key for improving competitive performance in all kinds of applications using light and lasers, but they will play a crucial role in solving several mounting societal challenges such as the ever-growing demand for telecommunications bandwidth and the ever-increasing energy consumption of data processing devices.

For more information on our current projects please visit www.nanophotonics.org.uk

Nanophotonics and metamaterials
Nanophotonics and metamaterials
Nanophotonics and metamaterials