Active Plasmonics and Perfect Lenses with Quantum Metamaterials.

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Physics

Abstract

We want to study a new class of metamaterials. They are made from semiconductor crystals which are structured on a length scale of a few nanometres, in a way that allows us to design in electronic resonances using the theory of Quantum Mechanics. At the moment, metamaterials are composed from arrays of small metal structures, each shaped so as to have resonances which can be engineered in using the theory of electromgnetism. They generate such fascinating designer optical effects as invisibility cloaks, negative refraction, and so-called perfect lenses , which can beat the diffraction limit to imaging resolution. Now, our theoretical studies show that our new Quantum Metamaterials will allow us to duplicate these wonders and, what's more, that they'll perform 100 times better than the metal-based ones. These new materials also promise a new class of so-called plasmonic waveguide devices which give highly concentrated light fields ideal for compact optical circuits and for super sensitive chemical sensors. The extra versatility of our new Quantum Mechanical approach allows us to combine the advantages of these highly concentrated optical fields with very low propagation losses. Also, the way the light propagates through a device can be controlled electrically and optically, both for the first time. This ushers in a new generation of active optical device concepts.All of this will be achieved with existing semiconductor fabrication technology. These devices will be easy and cheap to scale up in a manufacturing process, and they yield much higher and more reproducible device quality than is currently possible with metal based plasmonic designs.To do all this we need be able to map out optical fields in the mid-infrared part of the spectrum, at a resolution substantially smaller than an optical wavelength. This will be achieved using a so-called scattering-SNOM. This is a probe-based near field microscopy technique that has only just become commercially available, and we will couple it to a new tuneable IR laser that we will have to build ourselves. As a spin-off benefit, this s-SNOM will open the way for a whole new range of high-resolution chemical mapping studies across the chemical, biological and medical sciences, and the new laser will have applications in fields as diverse as industrial control, and environmental monitoring.
 
Description That quantum metamaterials can be used to make lenses that focus light at a resolution well below the diffraction limit, with much lower losses than ever before.

Also, normally if you get, say a lump in your throat and go for tests, at the moment, thay take a small "biopsy" sample of the lump, slice it thinly, stain it with vegetable dyes, and grade it by eye, in a standard optical microscope, to assess the level of threat it poses to your health. This is used to determine the treatment plan, be it chemo or radio therapy, or surgery, for example. Ovbiously this is a very serious decision, and the degree of human variability in the current process is as alarming as it is regrettable. We augnemt the process by imaging the tissue slice with specail IR wavelengths that are sabsorbed as chemical vibrations in the phosphate bonds in the cell DNA, and the amide bonds in cell proteins. Practically all cancers are characterised by a disruption in the cell multiplication cycle, and this in turn alters the ratio of these two cell chemical components as the piece of tissue starts to enter the diseased state. Or imager produces a computerised image of the tissue slice, based on this chemical change. The great feature of this is thet hospitals archive the tissue biopsies, so we can go back and analyse them with our new technology after the event, when the clinical outcomes are all known. This makes clinical trials very easy to conduct, and already we are close to gathering enough evidence to allow a properly configured spin-out company to be financed.
Exploitation Route We hope to have a DIGISTAIN instrument in every pathology lab throughout the developed world, saving lives by improving the accuracy and sensitivity of cancer detection.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

URL http://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/chris.phillips
 
Description We developed a new class of optical materials, so-called "Quantum Metamaterials" that enabled us to make "superlenses" that focus light at sub-diffraction resolutions. The metamaterials angle, and it's connection with cloaking, led to widespread interest and multiple media appearances, online, in the national broadsheet newspapers, and, most notably, on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman. Also, along the way , we developed a new form of mid-infrared Imaging technology, that went on to form the basis of a "DIGISTAIN" imaging instrument to detect and monitor cancer. We have had a successful pilot trial, and are now working with Breast Cancer oncologists to validate the technique clinically, with a view to forming a spin-out company, under the auspices of "Imperial Innovations" , Imperial Colleges tech transfer company. They have patented the technology, and commissioned a £25k businesses evaluation/market survey. We have just had a £100k award from the NHS to support the clinical validation trial;. Also we have just heard that this technology has been awarded a prestigious Royal Society Innovation Award" to furthet it's commercialisation.
Sector Chemicals,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description Sharp Labs Europe 
Organisation Sharp Laboratories of Europe Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Jointly supervised a research student, Megumi Yoshida. We did spectroscopy and theory.
Collaborator Contribution Jointly supervised a research student, Megumi Yoshida. They provided funding and samples.
Impact The papers listed under the Photon Ratchet grant.
Start Year 2010
 
Title Digistain 
Description We have also used our spectroscopic expertise to develop a new mid-IR medical imaging method for detecting cancer. It works by using mid-IR absorption to measure the ratios of chemical in a tissue slice taken from a suspected cancer site. At the moment clinicians diagnose and monitor the disease by subjectively grading these slices visually, after they have been stained with "H+E" vegetable dyes. Our technique augments this "H+E" protocol, but its a quantitative measure of the chemical changes (specifically the ratio of the concentration of phosphate groups from the DNA to the amount of Amide groups from cell proteins) known to accompany the disease, and we believe this will make it more selective and sensitive a measure than current histopathology. The cancer biopsies are chemically fixed, and hospitals archive them for many years so clinical trials are easy for us to perform. We work with pathology professionals who curate large cohorts of specimens, and we can go back , years after they were harvested, when the clinical outcomes and treatments are known and documented. This way we can trial and validate out technology ate a fraction of the effort and cost that it would take if we need to work with live patients. We've made and patented a prototype machine, capable of being operated, with a single mouse click, by a path. lab. technician and its currently undergoing clinical trials with IC cancer specialists at Charing Cross Hospital. Imperial's tech transfer company , Imperial Innovations, have financed the patents, funded a £25 k business analysis/market survey, and provided bridging funding to finance the trials. Recently we secured NHS funding for a much larger trials, in collabotration with medics at Nottingham ( Prof Ian EEllis) and Cambridge ( Prof Rebecca Fitzgerald) on breast and oesophageal cancer respectively. 
Type Diagnostic Tool - Imaging
Current Stage Of Development Early clinical assessment
Year Development Stage Completed 2013
Development Status Under active development/distribution
Impact C Phillips and H Amrania "Infrared Laser Device for Digitally Stained Tissue Images. " G B Patent, filed Oct 15th 2007, Application number 0720097.5 C C Phillips and H Amrania "A System and Method for Infrared Imaging. " G B Patent, filed Oct ??th 2008, Application number PCT filed GB0720097 C C Phillips and H Amrania "INFRARED IMAGING OF BIOLOGICAL MATERIAL. " G B Patent, filed 29 April 2015, Application number PCT filed GB1507314.1 
URL https://www.osapublishing.org/oe/abstract.cfm?uri=oe-20-7-7290
 
Description BBC News web article on our Quantum Optics work 2012 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An interview and lab film I did for the BBC on our Quantum Optics work. It led to me being invited to discuss opto-electronics research, Live, with Jeremy Paxman on his Newsnight show. Scary.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20258176
 
Description BBC Newsnight Interview , Live (!) with Jeremy Paxman 11th July 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I wsa invited to appear live in the Newsnight studio to comment on a "cloaking" story that had Broken that day
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b02xd173/Newsnight_11_06_2013/
 
Description Presidnt Of Korea Visit to Imperial 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Soutth Koreas Premier visited us and our reserch was chosen to impress her (above all else going on at Imperial. I set up a demo to make her "dissapper" along with out provost, although challenging lighting conditions, and heavy handed security meant it was as no as impressive as I usually manage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_5-11-2013-16-18-47
 
Description TV Gadget Show Interview and Invisibility Demo with John Cleese on Dave TV 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a TV pilot , mostly about silly gadgets, but each episode had a spot hosted by John Cleese, showcasing up-to-the-minute research. I set up an Invisibility demo and got to talk about science and have lunch with a long time hero.

Unfortunately, the series flopped, and they didn't pay John his royalties, so all the on-line archives have him ( and me) cut out.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008