Imperial College London

Research into plasmonics receives £4.8 million boost



Researchers will explore how to unlock the potential of a technology known as plasmonics with a new £4.8 million grant, announced this week.

Surface plasmons are waves of electrons that are generated under particular conditions by directing light onto a nanostructured metal surface. The combination of light and electron motion can be used to focus energy into very small spaces, much smaller than the wavelength of light.

Put simply, investment in world-class projects, equipment and people helps to make the UK the best place in the world to research, discover and innovate.

– Professor Philip Nelson

Chief Executive, EPSRC

Over the last six years researchers at Imperial College London, together with colleagues at King’s College London, have investigated the use of these surface plasmons for data communication and photonic devices, marrying traditional photonics with nanotechnology.

Now, the Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded a new £4.8 million programme grant to Imperial and King’s College London that will take plasmonics to the next stage, with a focus on real-life applications in chemistry, catalysis, bioimaging, and optoelectronics. On a more fundamental level the project will explore the behaviour of electrons in the formation of plasmons in metallic nanostructures. 

“We have put an exciting team of researchers from physics, chemistry, and materials science together to ensure a wide interdisciplinary impact of our research,” said Professor Stefan Maier, Principal Investigator for Imperial on this project, from the College’s Department of Physics. He is joined by a team of senior investigators including Professor Lesley Cohen, Neil Alford, and Dr. Rupert Oulton.

Professor Anatoly Zayats from King’s College, Principal Investigator of the programme grant, said: “We are very excited to work on this research programme with our colleagues at Imperial College London and our industrial partners. We have a challenging six years ahead to unlock new applications of plasmonics. With the development of new plasmonic materials and our understanding of electron behaviour in plasmonic nanostructures, the programme will allow us to harness unique properties of nanoplasmonics in high-density data storage, improved opto-electronic components, green energy, and many other optical technologies of the future.”

The grant is provided by the EPSRC as part of a £70 million package to enhance and support world-leading science equipment and a wide range of research activities at 18 universities across the UK. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, in areas covering information technology, structural engineering and materials science.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC Chief Executive, said: “Put simply, investment in world-class projects, equipment and people helps to make the UK the best place in the world to research, discover and innovate. This £65m package will fuel the UK’s technological progress, help address the challenges of today and tomorrow, and contribute to a strong economy.”



Laura Gallagher

Laura Gallagher
Communications Division

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