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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C539508/1
Title: Metallic nanoscale photonics and enhanced electromagnetic fields
Principal Investigator: Stavrinou, Dr P
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 March 2006 Ends: 28 February 2011 Value (£): 229,872
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Optical Phenomena
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
18 Apr 2005 Physics Fellowship Interview Panel Deferred
07 Mar 2005 Physics Fellowships Sifting Panel 2005 Deferred
Summary on Grant Application Form
The use of light is e central feature of modern the world end has provided many of the new technologies that emerged in the lest century, for example the way information is moved around the Internet or the screen on a mobile phone. Research is now turning to the development new light-based technologies, with a lot of emphasis on extreme miniaturisation. One problem ere the sizes involved. For example to look et single piece of DNA the sizes involved ere smaller then the waves that make up light itself! Solutions to this problem can make use of the recent advances in nanotechnology. One of these areas involves nothing more then e metal surface with e pattern on it end yet as we will see has the potential to produce new types of photonic devices and technologies. This is the topic area of the present proposal.We should first return to the metal pattern end look more closely et the details. The features on the patterns, and the gaps between each feature, ere smaller then the waves that make up the light end to distinguish this situation we refer to the patterns as being nanopatterns. If we shine light of e certain colour onto the nanopattern a different type of wave can be set up on the surface of the patterned metal. We can use these surface waves to transfer the energy from the original light end keep it on the surface for e while. If there ere tiny holes in the metal, these surface waves can help squeeze light through holes end out the other side. This is (and was) a very unexpected result since the sizes of holes ere much smaller then the original light waves! Even without holes, the surface waves can store energy in a very small region, again much smaller then the original light waves.The main aims of the work ere to study the properties of these surface waves, and attempt to answer questions such as whet patterns ere the best? Whet happens when we bring another material close to the metal surface? Can we use the energy in the surface waves to move tiny bits of material (for example some DNA or e single strand of special light emitting polymer material) and can we keep the energy in the surface wave but direct it to other parts of the surface? The answers to these questions can radically change the way scientists end engineers think about new applications using or generating light.The area is relatively new but many researchers in the UK end worldwide has already shown some exciting results. For example recent studies in America have looked et the effects on DNA close to metallic patterns. Placing the DNA on e plain microscope slide, they shone light on e sample of DNA end then tried watching for the fluorescence from the DNA but found there wasn't any they could measure. (By fluorescence we mean the DNA is shining light beck et us but usually at a different colour.) When they placed the same DNA material close nanopattemed metal they began to see the fluorescence. The reason for this sudden change of fortune is of course the nanopattern, and the arrangement of the bumps.These methods can be extremely useful in a wide range of applications, from making very smell (nano) lasers end other components from polymer materials to areas, as described above, which involve the testing of biological samples to identify e particular gene sequences in the DNA. In fact one grand aim is to have ell this testing apparatus on a single chip, the so-celled Lab-on-a-chip. All the elements of the Lab could make use of the nanopatteming of metals end surface waves, with each element having its own particular pattern. Other major benefits ere the size reduction, which not only means the future systems ere highly portable (about the size of e credit card) but should be very cheep to produce.
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk