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Our Research

Our research is focused on fundamental aspects of light-matter interaction at the nanoscale and new optical phenomena. Our extensive funding portfolio of major multi-million-£/€ grants has included three Programme Grants, a Portfolio, and Adventure and Basic Technology grants from the EPSRC and an ERC Advanced Grant.

Our achievements include foundational contributions to nanophotonics and metamaterials, artificial nanostructures with "optical properties on demand" such as asymmetric transmission of light and electromagnetically induced transparency; optical manifestations of two-dimensional chirality; Fano resonances and sharp closed modes; negative index due to chirality and optical activity without chirality. The group pioneered reconfigurable nano-opto-mechanical photonic media, with optical properties controlled by temperature, electric, magnetic, acoustic and optical signals, through nanomechanical actuation.

We coined the term "metadevice", meaning devices in which functionality is achieved by dedicated structuring of the material; and pioneered hybrid metamaterials with superconductors, carbon nanotubes, graphene, chalcogenides, topological insulators, perovskites, and liquid mercury microfluidics.

The group has studied control of light-with-light in coherent quantum metadevices. We were the first to recognize the potential of phase-change phenomena for nanophotonics, in nanoparticles and metamaterials, and developed phase-change reconfigurable photonic metadevices.

In plasmonics we coined the term "active plasmonics", to describe functionalities whereby propagating surface plasmons are controlled with light, and reported on femtosecond switching of surface plasmons. We were the first to generate surface plasmon-polaritons by free-electron impact, laid the foundations of the plasmonic metamaterial laser – the "Lasing Spaser", and developed free-electron-driven, chip-scale holographic, "light well" and metamaterial light sources.

We pioneered the field of toroidal electrodynamics, provided the first observation of the fundamental electromagnetic toroidal moment, the electromagnetic anapole and toroidal light pulses, and predicted toroidal transitions in atoms.

We were the first to observe the fundamental optical effect of superoscillation of light, which allows focusing of light into sub-diffraction hotspots. We have mapped the topological and structural properties of superoscillatory light and developed superoscillatory technologies for imaging and metrology. We developed ground-breaking techniques for visualizing movements in reconfigurable matter with atomic scale resolution and have reported on the observation of ballistic thermal motion in nanostructures.


We are working intensely on functional metamaterials, toroidal electrodynamics, optical metrology and imaging. We are spearheading the emerging discipline of Picophotonics - the science and technology of light at the atomic, picometer scale - where the Group has pioneering position, including the recent demonstration of atomic scale resolution optical metrology with topologically structured light, and the demonstration of the new dynamic state of matter, known as a continuous time crystal, which offers exiting new applications and playfield for the study of a new class of optical phenomena.