20 November 2013 PNAS First Look highlights plasmonic fs control at ICFO

Ultrafast fs switching of sub-wavelength hotspots at an optical nanoantenna

Nanoantennae might help view matter during ultrafast timeframes Research carried out by Daan Brinks, Marta Castro and Richard Hildner in the Molecular NanoPhotonics group led by Niek van Hulst, has been selected by “PNAS First Look”, to highlight the publication in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, one of the world’s most highly cited multidisciplinary journals.

The focus of ultrafast science is rapidly moving toward increasingly complex systems, both on a fundamental level (such as quantum networks in diamond or excitonic coherence in photosynthesis) and in concrete applications (such as multiphoton microscopy in membranes and cells). However, to disentangle the heterogeneous contributions to dynamics in such complex structures, femtosecond time resolution needs to be accompanied by nanometric spatial excitation volumes. In this PNAS paper Daan Brinks and co-authors present pre-engineered plasmonic structures to amplitude-phase shape excitation pulses in a designed way, and thus deliver simultaneous deterministic spatial and temporal control. As examples they demonstrate a sub-wavelength resolution phase shaper and an ultrafast nanometric hotspot switch for pump-probe experiments.

With this advance in fs antenna control the group of Niek van Hulst establishes the reproducibility that promotes ultrafast nanoplasmonics to enable “shedding light on the behavior of biomolecules on timeframes matching the ones they generally move in their natural environment\", asserts Charles Q. Choi, science-writer for PNAS First Look.