Periodic Reporting for period 1 - QTONE (Quantum Plasmomechanics with THz Phonons and Molecular Nano-junctions)
Reporting period: 2019-08-01 to 2021-01-31
The importance for society lies in the development of nanoscale devices for nonlinear optics, as well as the control of chemical reaction using light.
The overall objectives are to improve our understanding of light-matter interaction inside plasmonic nanocavities, with the specific aim to amplify molecular vibration by optical driving of a plasmonic cavity.
In the sub-project DyBa, our efforts focused on developing a deeper understanding of nanoparticle-on-mirror (NPoM) plasmonic cavities. In the process, we discovered an unexpected fluctuation in the gold-induced luminescence, which we called intrinsic luminescence blinking. This work was spearheaded by a postdoc from my group working on a different EU-funded project (THOR, FET Open), but also significantly involved two PhD students working on the QTONE ERC project: Sachin Verlekar and Aqeel Ahmed. The manuscript will be published soon in Nature Communication (gold open access). Ongoing manuscript are investigating the subtle interplay between molecular layer morphology and nanocavity stability, as well as the dynamics and origin of so-called “pico-cavities” in which optomechanical gain was first reported (Science 2016). We are also finalising a study on Raman sideband thermometry in NPoM cavities (PhD student Valeria Vento)
In the sub-project SMol, involving PhD student Sakthi Pryia Amirtharaj and a close collaboration with Emanuel Loertscher at IBM Research Switzerland, we are approaching the first experimental results. We have so far built the optical and transport measurement setup around the mechanical break-junction device leased to us by Dr. Loertscher. The fabrication of a first batch of mechanically actuated nano-antennas with contacts should be completed soon at IBM. In the meanwhile, we are developing a different approach based on directed assembly of nanoparticle inside nanogaps, whose fabrication is done fully at EPFL.