Nano-optical antennas allow to confine light on a truly nanometer scale. Indeed, my group recently demonstrated efficient funneling of incident far field to antenna hotspots, i.e. nano-focusing down to 25 nm, and achieved for the first time steering of the angular photon emission of a single molecule. These pioneering results on close encounters between nano-antennas and photon emitters pave the way to a regime of new physical phenomena: super-emission, gradient effects, breakdown of the dipole approximation, near-field spectra, single photon beaming, quantized plasmons and potentially strong coupling. These are exactly the novel effects I plan to explore. Specific objectives are: - Nano-optical control: positioning of single photon emitters at antenna hotspots with < 10 nm accuracy by top-down fabrication, optical forces and chemical recognition. - Super-emission-focusing: boosting of emission to ps Rabi periods and unity quantum efficiency by resonant coupling to the nano-antenna. Photons will be beamed in an antenna dominated angular cone, which in reciprocity acts as the acceptance cone for super-focusing. - Coherent antenna control: by shaping the phase content of broad band fs pulses and tuning the antenna load by optically active materials, I will control nanoscale fields, both in the temporal and spatial domain. - Quantized plasmons: by coupling single photon emitters across a nano-antenna I will explore strong coupling and uncover the quantum nature of plasmons. This research aims for a profound understanding of the fundamental limits of optical control at the nanoscale. The new tuneable photon super-emitters and nano-hot-spots open several new horizons: controlled single photon sources for quantum-information; light harvesting; energy conversion; efficient bio-sensors; optical imaging with 10 nm resolution.
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