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MESOPLAS Report Summary

Project ID: 630996
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: Spain

Periodic Report Summary 1 - MESOPLAS (Mesoscopic Plasmonics: Bridging Classical and Quantum Nano-Optics)

The boost experienced by nanophotonics research during the past decade has been driven by the ability of surface plasmons to collect and concentrate light into deeply sub-wavelength volumes. The hybrid nature of surface plasmons (which emerge from the coupling of photons to the collective oscillations of conduction electrons in metals) has allowed an unprecedented control of light at the nanoscale, a regime inaccessible to standard photonics technology. This scientific success has been possible due to two factors: the high precision of modern nanofabrication and characterization techniques, and the extraordinary predictive value of classical electrodynamics.

However, the miniaturization trend in experimental nano-optics is currently approaching dimensions comparable to the typical Coulomb screening length in noble metals (of the order of a few angstroms). A theoretical challenge arises in this spatial range for two reasons. On the one hand, at this sub-nanometre regime, macroscopic electromagnetism breaks down due to the emergence of quantum effects such as spatial non-locality. On the other hand, the enormous complexity of the full quantum numerical schemes available to describe the electron-ion dynamics in metals restricts their applicability to systems involving only a few hundreds of electrons.

The ultimate goal of MESOPLAS is to fill the gap between Maxwell’s equations and first principle condensed matter theory methods. It aims to devise a mesoscopic platform able to treat accurately and efficiently the interaction between light and matter in nanodevices which, presenting angstrom-sized geometric features, contain millions of electrons. This is a prominent fundamental problem with significant technological implications. MESOPLAS tackles it through 6 different and complementary lines (objectives):
1. Development of a theoretical framework for mesoscopic plasmonics.
2. General exploration of the quantum limit of plasmonic enhancement.
3. Assessment of quantum effects in plasmon-assisted nonlinear phenomena.
4. Refinement of the description of metal response in quantum plasmon-optics.
5. Modelling hot electron generation in plasmonic nanoparticles.
6. Design of setups for the experimental probing of quantum effects.

During the first half of the project, advances have been made in line with the objectives above:
- Novel theoretical approaches were developed for the study of exciton-plasmon coupling (O1),
- The limits of plasmon-assisted light-matter interactions at the nanoscale were clarified (O2),
- The conditions yielding coherent exciton-plasmon coupling in gap cavities were established (O3),
- A methodology to map classical and ab initio description of plasmonic rods was deployed (O1,O4)
- The survival of photon correlations through plasmonic strong coupling was demonstrated (O4),
- Successful collaborations with leading experimental groups were established (O6).

During the first half of the project, MESOPLAS gave rise to 6 papers and 3 manuscripts currently under review in high-quality journals, as well as 1 book chapter and 1 book (both in press). Another 5 scientific publications, closely related to MESOPLAS, were authored by the PI (fellow) during this period. Moreover, there are another 3 works currently in preparation relevant for the project. These reseach advances have been presented in international conferences (SPP-7 Jerusalem, M3-ASTAR Singapore, PIERS 2016 Shangai, SCOM-2016 San Sebastián) and workshops and seminars in prestigious institutions worldwide: BGU (Israel), Institut Neel and CINaM (France), Duke University (US), Imperial College London (UK), NTU and SUTD (Singapore), and UniZar and UAM (Spain).

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Life Sciences
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