Workshop: Classical and quantum aspects of light in complex media

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy


Recent years have seen a variety of different communities developing a common interest in light and complexity. This includes scientists working in areas as diverse as imaging in complex biological tissues, broadband optical fibre communication, design of advanced optical materials, quantum technologies and quantum imaging. By bringing together a number of early career researchers and experts in these areas, we can establish new links between these fields and discover often surprising similarities in different systems. The meeting goes outside of traditional formats by focusing primarily on a generation of early-stage academics within 10 years from their PhD in a unique setting, the Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park. A small number of prominent invited and plenary speakers have been selected to present their groundbreaking research and to set the scene for a high-quality discussion. Together with early stage researchers, several prominent panellists are invited to discuss current topics in scientific publishing, art and enterprise. An important element of the workshop is formed by posters, which form a central part of the meeting and will stimulate discussions amongst participants. The meeting will include participants from various universities inside UK as well as from overseas countries and is intended to foster a strong international community of light in complex systems.

Planned Impact

Photonics is one of the leading technologies of the 21st century. Its roles in society include applications in optical data-storage, datacommunication and broadband internet, advanced microscopy tools, medical imaging, defense & security. Photonics is rapidly finding new applications as new and more powerful sources and spectral windows are becoming available. Nanophotonics is the field of research dealing with the interactions between light and matter on length scales smaller than the optical wavelength. It includes the design of advanced materials and metamaterials with new properties not readily found in nature.

The field of nanophotonics has developed a very strong bottom-up approach in designing building blocks with optical resonances using metallic (plasmonic) and dielectric materials. In contrast to this traditional approach, complex nanophotonics studies the phenomena related to complex arrangements and nanostructures which cannot be simply explained from the building blocks. These include collective effects, emergent phenomena, multiple interactions and strong coupling. Systems in which complex nanophotonics can be observed are also very diverse and range from nanostructured solids, integrated photonic circuits, fibres, soft matter such as colloidal suspensions, to biological tissue.

The formation of a community of researchers with common interests but studying widely varying systems holds potential for generating impact as it brings together core knowledge and best practice from different fields. Biomedical imaging in scattering tissues is generating tremendous impact in society and is contributing to a healthier nation. Photonic datacommunication is forming the backbone of next generation datacentres and small photonic circuits are rapidly making their way into everyday applications. Quantum technologies are on the horizon and photonics is expected to play a large role in these applications. Our workshop has the potential to drive new and disruptive ideas which are needed to push forward science and applications related to complex nanophotonics.


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Description Non-scientific panel discussions at workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A panel discussion took place at the workshop, which included members of science related industries John Hammersley, Co-founder and CEO of, and Dr Sybil Wong of The discussion included entrepreneurship and converting your science related ideas into a company, as well as the role of companies such as Overleaf and Sparrho in supporting science, their ethical responsabilities in interacting with scientific content and data. Scientific and non-scientific parts of the workshop were tweeted by the workshop and re-tweeted through the Overleaf twitter channel, which reached a large audience of >10k twitter followers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017