Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Physics

Reader in Physics



+44 (0)20 7594 7576r.oulton




914Blackett LaboratorySouth Kensington Campus






Dr. Rupert Oulton is currently an EPSRC Career Advancement Fellow and Leverhulme Lecturer in Plasmonic and Metamaterials at Imperial College London.

Dr. Oulton graduated with a PhD in physics from Imperial College London under the supervision of Prof. Gareth Parry FREng., with a focus on the physics of wavelength scale semiconductor optical devices. After graduation, Dr. Oulton investigated organic semiconductor optoelectronic materials with Prof. Donal Bradley FRS and went on to take a consultancy position with Mitsubishi Chemicals Advanced Research, where he developed enhancement layers for Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) flat panel displays. Dr. Oulton returned to academia as a Research Associate in Prof. Xiang Zhang's lab at UC Berkeley investigating the use of metals in optics to achieve light confinement significantly below the wavelength barrier and coordinating UC Berkeley’s Centre for Nano-Manufacturing.


Plasmon Lasers

Plasmon lasers are a new class of laser. While conventional lasers are ideal for transfering light over large distances, plasmon lasers focus optical energy in both time and space to generate intense electric fields over small length and time scales. Light trapped within just ten billionths of a metre and lasting for just one trillionth of a second drastically alters the strength of light-matter interactions to vastly improve the sensitivity of conventional spectroscopies and the data capacity of optical communications.

Active Metamaterials

Metamaterials are artificial media that exhibit optical responses not seen in natural materials. For example, metamaterials can "bend light the wrong way" by negative refraction, "electromagnetically cloak" objects from detection and even form "optical black holes". The capability to engineer the linear response of optical materials also extends to non-linear optical properties. Engineering metamaterials to exhibit strong optical non-linearity provides new avenues in electro-optics modulation and all-optical switching.

Semiconductor Plasmonics

The strong optical confinement of surface plasmons, the collective oscillations of electrons at metal-dielectric interfaces, enhances a range of interactions between light and matter. This could lead to faster and more compact switches and light sources to power future data communications, for example. Since semiconductors form the backbone of all electronic and optoelectonic systems, it is vital to exploit plasmonic effects with these materials.  

Interested? Why not apply for an MRes in Plasmonics and Metmaterials

News Articles


Lawrence Berkeley Lab News: "Nanoscale waveguide for future photonics"

USNews: "Plasmon Lasers out of deep freeze"

IEEE Spectrum: "Nanolasers heat up"

MIT Technology Review: "Nanolasers heat up"

The Engineer: "Plasmon lasers pass commercial hurdle"

UC Berkeley News: "Nanolasers out of the deep freeze"


The Telegraph: "World''''s smallest laser"

NPR (US): "Scientists have big hopes for tiny lasers"

The Hindu: "World''''s smallest semiconductor laser"

Physics World: "Plasmonic laser puts the squeeze on light"

Laser Focus World: "Plasmons create the smallest laser"

PhysOrg: "World''''s smallest laser heralds new era in optics"

EETimes: "Nanoscale lasers harness plasmons"

Journal Access Required:

"Nature Photonics Editorial"

"Nature News & Views: Lasers go-Nano"

"Nature Nanotechnology News & Views"


 MIT Technology Review: "Compressing Light"

Invited and Postdeadline Talks

“Lasers beyond the diffraction limit” 50th Anniversary of the Semiconductor Laser, University of Warwick, September (2012)

“Laser Science in a Nanoscopic Gap” ICNP, Beijing, China May (2012)

“Laser Science in a Nanoscopic Gap”, META, Paris, France April (2012)

“Laser Science in a Nano-scale Gap”, Photonics and Quantum Electronics, Utah, USA January (2012)

“Lasers Beyond the Diffraction Limit” CLEO, Baltimore, MD, USA May (2011)

“Coupling Molecular Photoluminescence Into Deep Sub-Wavelength Plasmon Waveguides.”  CLEO/QELS, Baltimore, MD, USA May (2011)

“Lasers beyond the diffraction limit” IEEE Photonics Society Annual Meeting, Denver, CO, USA November (2010)

“Room Temperature Plasmon Lasers” CLEO/QELS, San Jose, CA, USA May (2010)

“Active plasmonics and nano-scale laser light sources” APS Spring Meeting, Portland, Oregon, USA, March (2010)

“Plasmonic Nano-Laser below the Diffraction Limit” Frontiers in Optics OSA Annual Meeting, San Jose, CA, USA October (2009)

“Giant Frequency-Pulling in Sub-Wavelength Plasmon Lasers” Frontiers in Optics OSA Annual Meeting, San Jose, CA, USA October (2009)

“A Sub-Wavelength Plasmonic Laser” SPIE Optics and Photonics, San Diego, California, USA, August (2009)

“Towards Sub-Wavelength Plasmonic Laser Devices” Integrated Photonics and Nanophotonics Research and Applications (IPNRA) Advanced in Optical Sciences, Honolulu, HI, USA, July (2009)

“Plasmonic nanowire lasers” 4th International Conference on Surface Plasmon Photonics (SPP4), Amsterdam, Netherlands, June (2009)

Lectures and Seminars

AMOLF Amsterdam, December (2012)

RIKEN, Japan, June (2012)
University of Sheffield, UK March (2012)
ESPCI, University Paris-Sud, France April (2011)
University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK April (2011)
Seminar Institute for Solid State Physics, University of Jena, Jena Germany Friday 11th February (2011)
Physics Department, Imperial College London, UK Thursday June 10th (2010)
Seminar UC Berkeley Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Berkeley, CA, USA Friday 7th November (2008)




First year academic tutor


Lecture course: "Advanced Topics in Plasmonics"

PhD Students

Themistoklis Sidiropoulos Silicon Plasmonics (EPSRC "Active Plasmonics" Programme Grant )

Sylvain Gennaro Plasmonic Lasers (EPSRC CAF Grant)

Lucas Lafone Metamaterial Lasers (Leverhulme Foundation Studentship)



Wells MP, Zou B, Doiron BG, et al., Tunable, Low Optical Loss Strontium Molybdate Thin Films for Plasmonic Applications, Advanced Optical Materials, ISSN:2195-1071

Grinblat G, Li Y, Nielsen MP, et al., 2017, Efficient Third Harmonic Generation and Nonlinear Subwavelength Imaging at a Higher-Order Anapole Mode in a Single Germanium Nanodisk, Acs Nano, Vol:11, ISSN:1936-0851, Pages:953-960

Ngoc BN, Maier SA, Hong M, et al., 2017, Recovering parity-time symmetry in highly dispersive coupled optical waveguides (vol 18, 125012, 2016), New Journal of Physics, Vol:19, ISSN:1367-2630

Yu H, Sidiropoulos TPH, Liu W, et al., 2017, Influence of Silver Film Quality on the Threshold of Plasmonic Nanowire Lasers, Advanced Optical Materials, Vol:5, ISSN:2195-1071

Duffin TJ, Nielsen MP, Diaz F, et al., 2016, Degenerate four-wave mixing in silicon hybrid plasmonic waveguides, Optics Letters, Vol:41, ISSN:0146-9592, Pages:155-158

More Publications