Light sources for the second quantum revolution

In the Quantum Photonics of Low-Dimensional Systems group at DTU Electro we try to discover new ways to use light, and we study how to create ever smaller light sources to meet the world’s need for communication technologies in a more energy-friendly way.

The energy consumption for communication is ever-growing. Radical new ideas need to be tried to find new solutions for the future.

Other scientists focus on miniaturization, however, we start from the bottom-up and look for new types of light sources that send only one photon at a time, and we do this in and near materials that are only one or a few atomic layers thick. This may contribute to new technologies for communication at the speed of light with less energy consumption and new types of computation based on light rather than electronics.

While computer chips have become smaller in the past decades, it is still challenging to make optical devices much smaller than the wavelength of light (around half a micrometre). We need quantum physics to understand our smallest light sources. Our light sources and nanostructured materials may become enabling technology for the second quantum revolution that many people worldwide are working on.

Exploring two-dimensional materials

We create and study interactions between light and matter on a scale smaller than the wavelength of light. We do this by fabricating new environments for light, typically using metal nanoparticles and materials that are only one atom thick e.g. two-dimensional materials such as graphene.

We have identified that the large family of two-dimensional materials is promising as  tunable optical materials, especially in combination with more conventional metals and dielectrics. We are curious to explore this new territory. In our optical explorations, we benefit from synergy with many other groups at DTU who study other aspects of these thinnest possible materials.

One of our aims is to create lasers that require less energy. By studying novel quantum light sources and their interactions in and near two-dimensional materials, our vision is to contribute to the quantum technology of the future. 

Testing novel theories in nanoscale

We also create new kinds of quantum light sources, for example the smallest lamps that send out just one photon at a time. In our experiments with near-field microscopes and other instruments, we see these individual quantum lamps and other details that are smaller than an optical wavelength.

On this scale, standard optics theory becomes useless and we develop and test novel theories in nanoscale quantum optics as our field guides in nanoland.


Martijn Wubs

Martijn Wubs Professor, Group Leader