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Nano-Optical Antennas for Tuneable Single Photon Super-Emitters

Final Report Summary - NANOANTENNAS (Nano-Optical Antennas for Tuneable Single Photon Super-Emitters)

We embarked this NanoAntenna project with the notion that optical nanoantennas should deliver ultimate nanofocussing, excitation enhancement, emission enhancement, directional control and an entry to strong coupling and quantum plasmonics. We have implemented advanced nanofabrication tools combined with single molecule sensitivity and coherently controlled excitation by broad band laser pulses. Throughout the project we have realized field confinement to 20nm, enabling extreme resolution microscopy; 200x excitation enhancement; fluorescence lifetime shortening to 20 ps, still mainly radiative, hence boosting the quantum efficiency; and directivity of single quantum emitters is over 10dB. Clearly optical nanoantennas uphold their promises when controlled well. Next we moved forward into coherent control and dynamic fs switching of the local nanoantenna fields, showing controlled switching of 20 nm hotspots on 10-100 fs time scale. Finally we have explored the quantum potential and realized a plasmonic quantum eraser.
A very important added value of the ERC project is the success of advances beyond the original objectives. We have exploited non-dipolar and magnetic antenna modes for emission control; discovered persistent coherences when addressing single molecular antenna complexes, which are thought to be important for efficient energy transfer in photosynthetic light harvesting complexes; received record shortening of lifetime and rate enhancement by antenna coupling; discovered gradient effects in SHG in nanoantennas; closed a first coherent feedback loop on a single quantum dot; shown ultrafast photo-response of graphene; have realized a plasmonic quantum eraser. Clearly the research freedom provided by the ERC funding is a crucial stimulating aspect, generating outcome and insight beyond the research horizon.