Scientific Focus

The scientific programme concentrates on nanospectroscopy in the UV/Vis/NIR spectral range, with a special focus on technique development, basic understanding of light-matter interaction at the nanoscale, and on (supramolecular) nanostructured hybrid materials. The scientific projects will be financed via individual or joint national research grants attracted by the Participants. The Action will coordinate nanospectroscopy activities under different interdisciplinary aspects:

  • Improving spectroscopic techniques with spatial resolution beyond the diffraction limit, with high spectral and/or temporal resolution and sensitivity down to the single-molecule level: A key factor will be the further development of real-time data processing and evaluation, requiring expert knowledge of light-matter interaction. Development of turn-key techniques will be crucial in making nanospectroscopy a daily workhorse in applied science and industry, with expected high societal impact.

  • Understanding and modelling basic physical and chemical processes of light-matter interaction in nanostructured systems and devices on the nanometre scale: The nanospectroscopic data will be analysed by means of physical and chemical models, and compared with theoretical/numerical models.

  • System design and nanotechnology includes top-down and bottom-up fabrication of organic, inorganic, and hybrid nanosystems. Advances in nanotechnology and (supra)molecular engineering are the prerequisites for investigating new thin-film and nanostructure geometries and compositions and optimizing their optical/electric properties.

  • Device applications: This Action will coordinate the application of the knowledge gained on e.g. electric field distributions and energy/charge flow on the nanoscale for proof-of-principle devices such as photovoltaic cells, (bio)sensors/diagnostic devices, or lasers.

Workplan

Instrumentation development: UV / vis / NIR nanospectroscopic techniques with improved (spatial, spectral, temporal) resolution and sensitivity, in-situ data processing and analysis will be a major issue of this Action. In discussion with experts on home-built setups and with industry, open issues of instrumentation development will be identified, and where possible addressed, e.g. by the development of novel near-field optical scanning probes, or turn-key techniques to address a wider group of users (biology, medicine, industrial analysis).

Materials and devices: Nanomaterials with interesting properties for the nanospectroscopic investigation of light-matter-interaction will be developed. Single- and dual-component semiconductor quantum dots and colloidal metallic nanoparticles with variable shapes will be synthesized. Single material and multilayer metallic nanostructures of various shapes, and metal-semiconductor hybrid layered structures will be fabricated using nanolithography. Nanoparticles and nanostructures will be assembled in dimer- and heteromer-configurations with small gaps for strong electromagnetic coupling using self-assembly, self-aligned fabrication strategies, and nanolithography. Organic single- and multi-component systems (nano- or single crystals, thin-films) will be prepared by (supra)molecular engineering. Carbon allotropes will be integrated using commercially available or chemical vapour deposition of carbon nanotubes, fullerenes, and/or graphene. Hybrid organic-inorganic systems will be prepared e.g. by coupling molecular, e.g. protein, systems to metallic optical antennas, by implementing metallic or semiconducting nanoparticles in organic matrices, or by local near-field photopolymerization using the electric near-field of metallic particles. The findings on both energy flow and material optimization will be implemented for the proof-of-principle demonstration of enhanced device properties for applications such as plasmonic photovoltaics and (bio)sensing/diagnostics.

Nanospectroscopic investigation and modelling: The materials will be investigated using a variety of nanospectroscopic techniques specifically adapted for their high temporal, spatial, and spectral resolution analysis. A non-exclusive overview over such methods is listed in section Methods and Means.

Nanospectroscopic investigation and data analysis will be undertaken and supplemented by theoretical modelling. The scientific aim is to advance knowledge on topics in the field of light-matter-interaction and energy/charge flow on the nanoscale such as:

  • Characterization of the absorption and emission properties of novel and hybrid nanomaterials
  • Time-resolved detection of energy and charge transfer processes at the nanoscale
  • Understanding and improving light harvesting processes and efficiencies
  • Structure-property-relationships in conjugated organic materials and carbon allotropes
  • DNA imaging, dye-DNA interactions
  • Exciton control and design rules for better lasing materials
  • Nanostructured multi-chromophore materials: unprecedented effects by cooperative interaction
  • Understanding of interactions of carbon nanotubes with polymeric environments
  • Far field / near-field optical properties of single/coupled metallic nanoparticles
  • Molecular plasmonics : interaction of metallic nanoparticles with passive/active molecules
  • Excitation/emission enhancement mechanisms in metal/surface enhanced fluorescence
  • Optimization of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy and (localized) plasmonic sensors.

The human and technical means needed to achieve the objectives in C are provided by the Participants of the COST Action NanoSpectroscopy. Sufficiently broad expertise is present within the Action. However this Action is expected to be interesting for a much larger number of European researchers. Additional Experts can easily be included in the flexible work plan and will strengthen the collaborative effort in pursuing the same objectives on a bigger scope. The workload of organizing workshops and training days will be shared between the participating countries and Working Group Leaders. Technical means for achieving the objectives are mostly clean room and nanofabrication facilities as well as optical setups and laser benches in optical spectroscopy laboratories. All relevant technology as detailed in D.2 is present in the Action. As one advantage of the Action, the equipment will be made available across the groups, leading to synergistic effects. Groups interested in joining this COST Action will contribute their own technical means. For the publication of the nanospectroscopy textbook, renowned publishing houses were already addressed and have expressed interest.