Scientific focus

The scientific programme will be flexible to fully accommodate the explorative scientific scope of NQO, but it will also address three major application areas that already exhibit clear evidence that the combination of quantum optics with nanophotonics is technologically valuable:

  1. information & communication technology (ICT), e.g. to improve single-photon sources and photon numberresolved detectors for secure communication as well as quantum-optical solutions for ICT;
  2. sensing & metrology, e.g. nanosensors and quantum-enhanced measurement devices;
  3. energy efficiency, e.g. development of new solutions for photovoltaics and energy saving.

At present, several universities as well as public and private research laboratories worldwide are conducting research to introduce quantum technologies in these applications. However, the roadmap towards compact and efficient quantum devices still requires a substantial basic research approach. We have thus identified four research priorities that deal with problems and limitations in the operation of existing quantum technologies, and that may contribute to the discovery and understanding of novel quantum phenomena for future applications:

  1. Generation, detection & storage of quantum states of light at the nanoscale;
  2. Nonlinearities and ultrafast processes in nanostructured media;
  3. Nanoscale quantum coherence;
  4. Cooperative effects, correlations and many-body physics tailored by strongly confined optical fields.

The first two priorities will also target technological aspects, such as performances and integration of quantum photonics devices, whereas the other two include rather exploratory activities.

The investigation of these concepts and phenomena at the nanoscale is not a trivial task and requires an extensive effort on several fronts. The key idea here is to exploit the interaction among leading experts working in different areas to improve synergy, set a common language, and foster new ideas. In this regard, another important step will be to ensure that theory and modeling, advanced quantum optical experiments, new materials and nanofabrication are well represented by the Action members. It is worth noting that the communities involved in the Action are strongly committed to three of the Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) recognized at the European level, i.e. nanotechnology, photonics and advanced materials, thus ensuring a synergic cross-KET approach to important application fields.

Scientific work plan methods and means

Distinctive and autonomous research communities have so far generally pursued separately the three application areas targeted by the Action. This fact represents a considerable obstacle to the cross fertilization of research activities and to the development of innovative solutions in order to address common challenges, which are increasingly more pressing in these technology sectors. For example, efficiency has become an important issue in the energy supply as well as in information technology, where the power required for data traffic is turning into a significant percentage of the total energy consumption. To encourage the exchange of ideas, the formulation of innovative concepts, the development of unconventional research approaches and ultimately the generation of ground-breaking technologies, the Action will organize its scientific activities into four Working Groups (WGs) according to the four research priorities that have been identified, hence mixing theory, experiments and materials development from quantum-optics to nanophotonics as well as expertise in the three major application areas in the Action focus. The Action will support this structure for stimulating scientific interaction through networking and dissemination, as outlined in sections C, E, F and H. Moreover, to facilitate the scientific exchange and to establish a common playground, the Action will encourage some overlap between the WGs, which will occur through the organization of joint events concerned with:

  • Investigation of innovative materials (e.g. diamond nanostructures, plasmonics structures, graphene, silicene, hybrid organic/inorganic) and techniques to combine them with quantum systems with a high and reproducible precision (e.g. scanning-probe techniques, two-step lithography, ion-beam milling and deposition). High-throughput and low-cost fabrication methods for hybrid nanodevices (e.g. self-assembly, nanoimprinting).
  • Optical methods for investigating quantum light-matter interfaces (e.g. single-molecule spectroscopy, stimulated-Raman adiabatic passage (STIRAP) and coherent population
    trapping), the development of novel approaches at the interface between quantum optics, nano-optics & nanophotonics and advanced spectroscopy (e.g. nanoantennabased
    spectroscopy, coherent multidimensional nanoscopy) and also modern x-ray and neutron scattering techniques. This aims at leveraging state-of-the-art experimental capabilities for new quantum technologies.
  • Advance theoretical techniques to quantitatively understand these phenomena (e.g. noncanonical quantization schemes, non-Markovian bath interaction models), including novel computational methods (e.g. hybrid electromagnetics / quantum mechanical algorithms such as the finite-difference time-domain method coupled with the Schrödinger equation).

The research topics of the Action scientific work plan include, but may not be limited to:

  • Working Group 1

    Generation, detection & storage of quantum states of light at the nanoscale with emphasis on efficiency, fidelity and rate.

  • Working Group 2

    Nonlinearities and ultrafast processes in nanostructured media.

  • Working Group 4

    Cooperative effects, correlations and many-body physics tailored by strongly confined optical fields.