Workshop: From complex nanophotonics to complex nanodevices

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Physics


The community that investigates light propagation, localization and its nano-scale interaction with quantum emitters in complex photonic and biological media is currently not represented by a dedicated conference, instead it is drowned in much larger very large meetings. Despite this, a new generation of scientists engaging with the topics of complex nanophotonics is emerging from different fields, from single-molecule nano-optics to biomedical imaging and sensing, from quantum networks to light management for solar cells, from Anderson localization of light to high sensitive biosensing.
In this workshop we will discuss the latest progress, future developments and will facilitate the formation of a community driven by the next generation of junior scientists linked by the common passion for complexity and nano- and bio- photonics, by giving them visibility and building a contact network around them.
In the organization of the workshop we want to break from the traditional conference format, which are often showcases of career-long investigations, to try to engage the creativity of early-stage scientists and create new scientific connections, fostering critical thinking. For this reasons we have chosen to stress the importance of the poster session (often neglected) and organize evening debate sessions to discuss science-related topics like science outside the academia, open access, and peer-review.

Planned Impact

Nanophotonics has developed a very strong bottom-up approach by shaping optical fields down to the near-field, which, among many phenomena, allows for very efficient bio-sensing. Plasmonic nanoantennas, dielectric Mie scatterers, oligomers are examples of relatively simple up to increasingly complex systems that are well covered by a range of conferences. Nanostructured dielectrics, plasmonic antennas arrays and photonic networks, just to mention a few, escape this reductionist approach, and can be fully understood only in their collective behavior. Complex nanophotonic systems deal with strong light-matter interaction on a scale which goes beyond these simple devices, bringing emerging properties to macroscopic assemblies and real-life devices. Optics of fractal, chaotic modal statistics, long-range correlation, for example, build on the nanoscopic light-matter interaction to construct phenomena that reach the mesoscopic and macroscopic scale. These systems hold promise in applications such as biosensing, imaging, light management for solar cells, transparent electrodes for LEDs and optoelectronics.
Both the areas of plasmonics and nanophotonics have a considerable demonstrated positive impact on society. Examples where photonics has significantly improved the quality of life are optical data storage (cd, dvd, blu-ray) and optical broadband internet. In addition, plasmonics has resulted in new types of biosensors used in clinical environments and for rapid screening, e.g. in pregnancy tests using colorimetric effects related to selective aggregation of gold nanoparticles functionalized with biomolecular labels.
Imaging and focusing of light in complex environments such as the human body is of great importance for non-invasive diagnostics and therapy. Successful examples where complex photonics is making an impact are Optical Coherence Tomography for retinal imaging; diffuse optical tomography for early detection of breast cancer; photothermal, photoacoustic, and other combined optical and ultrasound imaging techniques. The emerging field of wavefront shaping holds the promise to allow quantitative imaging deep inside strongly scattering materials.
Another important area of complex photonics is in the design of nanostructured materials for light emission and energy harvesting. The rational design of structures that can enhance the light trapping and/or emission efficiency is resulting in improvements in photovoltaics, water splitting devices, and LEDs. The combination of light trapping and gain results in new types of lasers with a low spatial coherence which are currently being considered for use in microscopy and optical barcodes.
In all of the above applications, control over optical wave propagation in complex and dynamic systems is of critical importance. The impact of this workshop is to identify fundamental concepts, methods of analysis, and experimental approaches which are universal for various complex systems and to translate these to different applications. The collective of invited and plenary speakers combine a unique set of knowledge and skills which, when brought together, is likely to result in new ideas and synergy and which will foster new collaborations between disciplines which until now have not been strongly connected. Different disciplines come with different ways of thinking, and a multidisciplinary workshop helps the participants to understand the culture and language of other fields.


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Description The workshop was a huge success. Not only we received a lot of very high quality applications, but the feedback received from the participant was excellent. I am particularly proud of our poster session, which sparked so many interesting discussion that people skipped the dinner to continue talk!
Exploitation Route The format of the workshop did not follow the usual schemes, but was designed to foster discussion over one-way presentations. The success of this format proves that we can break from the old mould and allow early career researchers to discuss and collaborate.
Sectors Healthcare

Description Organization of the conference "ScienceCamp 2015" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Organization of "ScienceCamp 2015" (, a conference about complex nanophotonics aimed at early career scientists. We had ~60 early career scientists coming from all over the world (mostly from Europe, but several from the USA and Israel), 3 experienced keynote speakers and guest speakers from the publishing industry (Nature Materials), industry (Qivivo), and even science-related art performers. Beside the standard scientific talks we devoted a lot of time to debate sessions, which were greatly appreciated.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015