Our group is investigating and developing novel techniques and technologies to tackle this increasingly important and challenging task. Our expertise ranges from fundamental physics studies to more applied science and engineering issues within this exciting niche of knowledge.
A brief overview of some of the specific topics we are currently working on is given below. Please feel free to navigate through these links at your leisure and thank you for your interest in our research activities!
Biophotonics is an area of research concerned with the development of novel optical techniques for applications in biology and medicine, including the study of molecules, cells and tissue systems. It combines biology and physics (and sometimes chemistry!) to achieve this goal. Our work is focused on the development of a Terahertz imaging and temperature sensing technique that can be used for cancer diagnostics and hyperthermia therapeutic applications. The pillars of this research include the synthesis and photothermal characterization of gold nanoparticles, capable of heating once they are being irradiated with light. It also focuses on heating processes in gold nanomaterials, particularly collective heating effects. In combination with Terahertz radiation, our aim is to develop an imaging technique that can also address a significant challenge in biological and medical applications, namely temperature measurements at the cellular level.
The general idea about integrated photonics is the use of photons instead of electrons, in order to create optical circuits similar to those in conventional electronics. Passive and active elements including basic components for the generation, focusing, splitting, coupling, isolation, polarization control, modulation, light detection should be ideally all integrated on a single substrate and connected by optical waveguides. Thus, by analogy to micro-electronics, integrated photonics tends to use the Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) compatible technological platform to realize devices in a more compact way, i.e. with sizes of the order of the micron (by integrating the required functionality on a single chip), and also to reduce the effective cost of production. Material characterization, micro-fabrication and development of new devices and schemes taking advantage of various nonlinear phenomena are actually studied by our research team mainly for laser and telecom applications.
Nonlinear optics is a field of science and engineering that focuses on studying phenomena that occur as a consequence of the modification of the optical properties of a material system following the interaction with high intensity light. Due to the nonlinearity intrinsic to a medium, it is possible to create various wave mixing processes in which energy is transferred between different waves in the system (e.g. second harmonic generation, three-wave mixing, four-wave mixing etc.).
Following a quantum mechanical description of the electromagnetic field and the model of the photon (particle of light with quantized properties) developed over 100 years ago, quantum optics has risen to one of the largest fields in physics with many applications in Sensing, Imaging, Metrology, Communication and Quantum Computation. Our group focuses on combining our strong expertise in Integrated Photonics and Nonlinear Optics with state-of-the-art equipment and quantum technology to develop new integrated quantum optical devices at telecommunication wavelengths for modern quantum communication and computation applications. In particular, we focus on multiplexed photon sources and the quantum properties of optical frequency combs.
Terahertz radiation lies at the edge of the electronics and the photonics realm and boasts unique features able to strongly impact several strategic areas, such as Security (high-resolution, non-ionizing body-scanners), Quality Control (common packaging materials are transparent to THz radiation), and eventually high data rate Wireless Communication. Furthermore, intense THz pulses can be employed to investigate intriguing light-matter interaction regimes, where the medium response occurs on the time scale of the electric field oscillation. The Nonlinear Photonics group has a large number of ongoing projects investigating both the fundamental and the applied potential of THz radiation. Starting from the development of intense THz sources (we indeed established some of the most intense table-top THz sources currently available), we exploit the high field for investigating nonlinear light-matter interaction at THz frequencies. Furthermore, we set up a near-field THz microscope, and we are working towards the implementation of guided wave configurations and optical active components at THz frequencies, also exploiting magnetic-based effects.