This has been a good year for nano optics. And the research group 2DNanoptica (Oviedo, Spain) is largely responsible for this. Leading international collaborations, they’ve published two major advances in high impact factor journals during 2021.

In the first one, published in Nature Communications, they’ve presented a study on the refraction of light in highly anisotropic materials at the nanoscale. They’ve shown how light shows an exotic behaviour under this circumstances: how it can propagate in non-intuitive directions or how the refracted waves can be highly confined. Using these principles, they’ve built nanometric lens able to focus light in spaces way smaller that its wavelength.

In the second one, published in Science Advances, they show a similar result, but this time using two gold nano antennas, shaped in a special way that allows to focus light with a high level of confinement.

These results have obvious applications in optical computation or communications. But also they can work as biological or atmospheric sensors. However that does not really matter, does it? Because this work (both theoretical and experimental) is just beautiful. And that should be enough.


We did this two pictures in collaboration with Patricia Bondía to illustrate this work under close supervision of Pablo Alonso-González and Javier Martín Sánchez.

Good Vibrations

Today we want to talk about light and molecular vibrations coupling. It is known that infrared light can interact with matter through the molecules natural vibrations. What it was not so well known is that this coupling between light and matter can be so strong that it can change the material properties. But this strong-coupling-landscape has yet to be explored.

Researchers from CIC nanoGUNE BRTA (San Sebastian, Spain), the Donostia International Physics Center (San Sebastián, Spain) and the University of Oviedo (Spain) have employed a spectroscopic nanoimaging technique to achieve this strong coupling. By using “a particularly strong compression of infrared light” and a “thin layer of hexagonal boron nitride” they’ve explored in real space “how the phonon polaritons couple with the molecular vibrations” of organic molecules.

Their findings, published in Nature Photonics could have an impact in molecules detection technologies but more importantly, it opens a door to the study of quantum aspects of strong vibrational coupling.

This picture we did under the supervision of Andrei Bylinkin (first author) has been featured in the cover of Nature Photonics.