Nanophysics: making light work

We are researching ways of capturing the energy from light and controlling it to make it do work for us.

The Challenge

Making light work for us

Light from the sun is our planet's primary source of energy. Light is essential for all life. Light from the sun provides warmth, allows plants to grow, powers our weather systems and allows us to see.

Sunlight can provide power for much of technological society. Our challenge is to harness this energy efficiently to make it do work for us.

Our Response

Controlling light at the nanoscale

We are researching ways of capturing the energy from light and controlling it to make it do work for us.

We do this by manipulating the interaction of light with materials at very small size scales. This is achieved by carefully choosing the right materials and shaping their geometry to capture light energy and to concentrate it where it is needed the most.

We combine our expertise in the theory of light-matter interactions with computer models to design novel nanometre-scale structures capable of capturing and redistributing light energy.

We use state-of-the-art micro and nanofabrication technologies to build devices that we use to test our understanding and knowledge. We then apply low cost micro printing and nano fabrication methods to scale up devices.

The Results

Creating nanoscale devices

Our research tells us how light interacts with semiconductors, metals and dyes in novel hybrid photovoltaic devices.

Our devices enhance the performance of photocatalysts, which will use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into more complex chemical feedstocks for sustainable fuel production or for the manufacture of high value chemicals.

These techniques for manipulating light have led to nano-scale optical devices for processing optical signals for applications in biosensors.

Controlling the light absorption properties of materials will lead to more efficient solar-thermal energy conversion as well as new ways of managing heat in passive devices for cooling.


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