Over the years, I have done research in quite a variety of fields, but the common factor in all of them has been optics. Although I obtained my Master degree in Semiconductor physics, even during those years I was always intrigued by light and how it interacts with matter. The most peculiar property of light (and electromagnetic waves in general) is the fact that it shows both wave- and particle like behavior. An electromagnetic wave is carried by a photon (the particle) which propagates as a wave. This behavior also lies at the basis of my main research interest which can be found in the following fields:
The term “meta” stems from Greek and refers to “what goes beyond”, and that is exactly the definition of an electromagnetic metamaterial: a material which has properties that go beyond the things that can be found in nature. As such, these artificial materials are engineered to exhibit an electromagnetic response which cannot be achieved in any conventional material. Some examples that have been widely studied are negative refractive index materials, invisibility cloaks and chiral metamaterials that can change the polarization state of light.
The field of plasmonics studies the behavior of plasmons, which are plasma-like waves that typically occur at the interface between a (noble) metal and a dielectric. The most widely studied plasmon resonances are propagating modes known as Surface Plasmon Polaritons (SPPs) and localized modes which are typically confined to small metal particles and which are known as Localized Surface Plasmon Resonances (LSPRs).
Plasmonic (bio-) sensors
One of most widely studied applications in the field of plasmonics are (bio-) sensors, as many of the investigated structures are very similar in dimensions to (biological) molecules, which makes them a perfect interface medium for sensing applications. Moreover, plasmon resonances are highly sensitive to their dielectric environment, which is applied in refractive index sensing but they also give rise to largely enhanced electromagnetic fields, a property that is used in Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS).
In the fairly new field of magneto-plasmonics, the interaction of plasmons with magnetic materials is investigated. This interaction can be used to control or modify the magnetization state of magnetic materials or to obtain better control over the propagation behavior of electromagnetic waves. Future applications can be found in optical modulators, sensors and memories.