The applications are invited from exceptional candidates to work on the EPSRC funded research programme Reactive Plasmonics: Optical control of electronic processes at Interfaces for nanoscale physics, chemistry and metrology at Imperial College London
Plasmonic excitations related to the coherent oscillations of free carriers near the surface of good conductors – surface plasmons – have amazing properties. Light can be coupled to these surface plasmons and trapped by them near the interface between a metal and an adjacent material. This leads to sub-wavelength confinement of light, impossible by any other means, and related electromagnetic field enhancement. The associated effects and applications include high sensitivity to the refractive index of surroundings used in biosensors, enhancement of Raman scattering near the metal surfaces used in chemical sensing and detection, enhanced nonlinear optical effects, subwavelength light sources for imaging, and many others.
At the same time, the influence, on the surroundings of the metal nanostructures, of the electrons participating in the formation of surface plasmons, is virtually unexplored. These microscopic electron dynamic effects associated with surface plasmons are capable of significantly influencing physical and chemical processes near the metal surface not (only) as a result of the high electric fields, but also from the transfer of energetic electrons to the adjacent molecules or materials in the surroundings.
The aim of this PhD project is to understand the physics and harness applications associated with such electronic processes, induced by plasmonic excitations, in designer nanostructures. This will open up new paradigms in ultrafast control over nanoscale chemical reactions switchable with light, optically controlled catalysis, optical and electric processes in semiconductor devices induced by plasmonic hot-electrons, integration with two-dimensional materials such as graphene, as well as nanoscale metrology tools for temperature and field measurements.
The exact topic of the PhD will be tailored to the interests of the applicant, and can be from any applied and fundamental area of reactive plasmonics, with a particular focus on integration with semiconductor materials, two-dimensional materials, and the control of chemical reactions.
For further details please contact Professor Stefan Maier.