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Antennas for light and their applications in classical optics

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Gold particles with dimensions of about a hundred nanometres are resonant at visible wavelengths and thus serve as antennas for light. Over the past two decades, nano-fabrication technology has advanced to the point where a wide range of applications for optical antennas are now possible. Individually they may be exploited for sensing at the sensitivity of single molecules and within arrays they can be deployed to realise thin and planar optical elements, such as lenses and polarisers. In this talk, I will discuss some of the contemporary themes in this diverse field, and in particular their applications in classical optics. Each example highlights a key advantage of optical antennas: e.g. using their nanometric scale to quantify lens aberration; or using their tightly focussed optical field to realise strong nonlinear optical effects for optical pulse characterisation. I will also review our work on hot electrons: remarkably, the electrons excited by light in metals can be over 1000 oC hotter than their surroundings! This could enable new and potentially inexpensive infrared detectors. Please visit aka.ms/OpticsForTheCloud to secure your place

This talk is part of the Microsoft Research Cambridge, public talks series.

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