Quantum optical cavities for characterisation of single photon emitters as probes of biochemical activity and single-molecule lasers – PhD (Funded)

Apply by 17th February 2020

Background

Optical micro/nanostructures are important for many applications such as lasers, metrology and biosensing. Optical microcavities confine a light wave into a small and controlled sensing area. Within this sensing area, light matter interactions can be precisely controlled and explored. By adding a metal nanostructure, it becomes possible to explore the interaction of single molecules with the metal nanostructure. Particularly interesting is the study of the interaction of the molecule with a plasmon resonance that is excited in the metal nanostructure. Our goal is to study this fundamental interaction between a single molecule and a plasmon resonance, preferably in the weak and strong coupling regimes. Further, by introducing an intracavity Faraday Effect and external magnetic fields, the interaction of light with the molecule becomes sensitive to the molecule’s handedness (chirality). It is our ambitious goal to exploit weak and strong light-molecule interactions and their dependence on chirality and magnetic fields to detect the handedness of a single molecule.

Your Project

The project aims at the implementation and quantum optical characterization with optimized parameters of a single-biomolecule photon source for biochemical sensing, and imaging applications. Optoplasmonic Whispering Gallery Mode (WGM) optical cavities with very high quality factors will be designed and fabricated to realize the reliable and robust collection and characterisation of emitted single photons from single molecules. The study will also extend into the possible tuning and optimization schemes for the integrated sensing of biochemical activity at the single-photon and single molecule level, and approaching single-molecule laser device characteristics. The present experimental research project involves supporting theoretical studies for the design of optimized cavities and derivation of fundamentally new analysis of single photon correlations from single molecules operated in the lasing regime of an optoplasmonic sensor. Further, with the implementation of photon statistics analysis of the quantum optical single-molecule source, the project also explores novel approaches for quantum spectroscopy and imaging of chemical activity based on quantum-correlated-photon-based detection schemes.

What we are looking for

Well-motivated physics or engineering students with a passion for applied quantum optics and with a quantum optics background will be desirable for the present cutting-edge doctoral research project. The project is experimental but also has a strong theoretical component. You will work as part of a team of physicists, electrical engineers, and biochemists.

Prof Frank Vollmer

University of Exeter, Living Systems Institute

Exeter EX4 4QD, United Kingdom

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