Pushing the Boundaries of Photonic Sensing

Professor Luca Dal Negro has received a $450K grant from the Army Research Office to pursue improvements in quantum photonic sensing and detection technology driven by the development of novel nonlinear nanostructures. Noting the limitations of contemporary absorptive single-photon devices, his team will pivot to a completely new approach, with significant potential to advance the field of quantum photonics in both theoretical and practical ways.

In contrast to traditional photodetectors, which detect the presence of photons using absorptive materials subject to noise and bandwidth limitations, the approach proposed by Professor Dal Negro aims to exploit the intrinsic quantum correlations of optical fields to identify and discriminate small numbers of photons without ever perturbing or absorbing them. In order to achieve this function, which is known as “quantum non-demolition detection” (QND), the proposed approach leverages the unique optical properties of highly nonlinear plasmonic materials in combination with resonant modes localized on the nanoscale by novel optical nanostructures.

Using these novel materials and nanostructures, researchers plan to demonstrate the feasibility of the first nanoscale QND sensors with ultrafast responses operating at room temperature in the infrared spectral range. These demonstrations and theoretical activities will create a foundation for engineering a new generation of coherent quantum devices with applications to imaging, spectroscopy, computing, and related quantum optical technologies.

Professor Dal Negro headshotProfessor Luca Dal Negro received his PhD from the University of Trento in Italy in 2003, and is an OSA fellow. His research interests include nano-optics and metamaterials, nonlinear and quantum optics, and advanced imaging and multifunctional optical devices.