PhD position: Flexible optical metasurfaces

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 15 May 2021

Are you a highly motivated physicist with a strong interest in blurring the boundaries between photonics and mechanics? We are seeking an excellent and ambitious PhD candidate to carry out interdisciplinary research on flexible optical metasurfaces.

A long-standing challenge for both fundamental and applied sciences is to devise new tools to actively manipulate physical signals – such as light, sound, or motion. During the past 20 years, metamaterials have become a particularly fruitful paradigm to control light or motion in unprecedented ways. By patterning materials at a length scale much smaller than the typical interaction length in the material, metamaterials can be designed that have man-made properties that cannot be found in nature. For instance, optical metasurfaces can now redirect and pattern light beams with nm-thick layers, and mechanical metamaterials can exhibit extreme and programmable shape-changes. Yet, despite these impressive advances, metamaterials research has so far been focused on restricted sets of properties: metamaterials allow the control of either light or motion, yet never simultaneously.

In this project, you will merge optical metasurfaces and mechanical metamaterials and leverage their combined advantages to realize mechanical programming of light fields.

Merging mechanical and optical metamaterials offers tantalizing prospects. Can the large and programmable deformations of mechanical metamaterials be transferred to the scale of photonic chips? How do mechanical reconfigurations of optical arrays change the nature of light-matter interactions? How to construct a multiscale description that captures hybrid mechanical-optical properties? We anticipate that addressing these fundamental research questions will lead to a new subfield for metamaterial research, that of flexible optical metasurfaces. This research will pave the way to the grand goal of realizing on-the-fly programmable control of optical wave fronts.

You are expected to perform fundamental research to push the limit of active metamaterials.

You will:

  • develop and fabricate micron-scale kirigami metamaterials and nanophotonic optical metasurfaces in the cleanroom of the AMOLF NanoLab Amsterdam ;
  • design and create mechanically-programmable active optical metasurfaces;
  • perform optical experiments with mechanical stimuli;
  • construct a multiscale hybrid mechanics/optics model to support and guide the experiments;
  • present your results in international workshops and conferences;
  • work collaboratively between two research groups;
  • take part in the teaching efforts of both groups, including supervision of Bachelor and Master students.

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