In the last few decades there has been a growing excitement in the field of photonics, with interest ranging from topics in fundamental physics to those in applied physics and engineering. This is certainly due in part to a rapid development of tools and techniques for the manipulation, fabrication, and characterization of materials at a length scale below the micrometer, allowing for a more effective control of the generation, propagation, and confinement of light. The most exciting advances in photonics have relied on the control of light at the micro-­ and nano-­meter scale. And the best is certainly yet to come!

Classical and Quantum Nonlinear Optics

Traditional sources of nonclassical light require bulk optical elements that limit scalability beyond a research laboratory. Quantum photonics technologies would benefit from compact structures that can be integrated “on-chip”. Such structures allow for tight light confinement, which can boost the matter nonlinear response, not to mention better scalability and integration with existing infrastructures. Many structures exist today that could potentially be used for the generation of nonclassical light. But just how efficient can these systems be? What is the limit to the enhancements to the performance of integrated devices ? How can we easily tailor the property of the generated light for specific applications? We try to answer these questions by developing theories able to describe quantum nonlinear processes in micro and nano-structures.

Artistic representation of a density matrix correpsoning to two entangled qubits 

Electric field distribution of a resonant mode  in a micro-ring resonator 

Light confinement

The control of light propagation and confinement is central in all applications involving the light–matter interaction, from classical and quantum transmission of information in optical fibers to the use of nano devices in fundamental science. In dielectric structures, light confinement is achieved by exploiting two different effects: total internal reflection at the interface with media having different refractive indices or interference, like in photonic crystal structures. Our research is focused on guiding (2D) and confining (3D) light, mainly using surface states in dielectric structures.
 
The structures we study and design are appealing to control the light–matter interaction either at the fundamental level, for example in the strong-coupling regime of quantum-well or quantum-dots, or for applications, from integrated quantum optics to optical sensors. 

Materials

In our research we aim at enhancing the light-matter interaction in several material platforms, from those commonly used for the fabrication of integrated photonic circuits (including silicon-on-insulator, silicon nitride, and lithium niobate) to more exotic materials, such as silk and other organic polymers. Naturally, each material platform has its own weaknesses and strengths. Our goal is understanding them to effectively control the interaction with light for specific applications, ranging from the generation of nonclassical light to optical sensing.    
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 Silk photonics butterfly to demonstrate an optomechanical actuator.

Funding and Collaborations