• ICFO
  • ICFO
  • ICFO

NanoLight: light and matter at the nanoscale

The Project

Invisibility cloaks are related to solar energy new trends to fight global warming. And medieval rose windows can explain some aspects of nanomedicine, early diagnosis and noninvasive phototherapies. How? All these phenomena share a common ingredient: the interaction of light with nanomaterials. Come and fabricate your own nanoparticles and use them on a series of photonic challenges involving ultimately the interaction of light with living cells, at the core of cancer diagnosis and therapies.

Light usually refers to the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, plus the infrared (heat) and the near ultraviolet. Light waves, as any other electromagnetic radiation, transport energy and momentum. Being able to control the interaction of light with matter at the nanoscale allows the construction of materials to concentrate heat in very small places, or select specific wavelengths (colors) of an incoming white radiation. Roughly speaking, we can engineer materials to deal with energy and information with accuracy and precision unreachable before the arrival of nanotechnology.

In this course, we have focused on the interaction of light with metallic nanoparticles. You will understand how the free electrons on these nanoparticles resonate with the electric field of light, and how this resonance depends on the composition and more critically on the size and form of the nanoparticles. You will then be asked to solve a series of chained challenges –which go from aligning an optical experiment to being part of the process of nanofabrication– with the ultimate goal of controlling and measuring heat generation at the nanoscale.

A potential application of this technique is photothermal cancer therapy, in which cancerous cells are destroyed with concentrated heat, but during your stay at ICFO you will be also exposed to many other uses and features of the interaction of light and matter at the nanoscale, dealing with nanomedicine, solar cells, new materials, and even quantum information.

Matching profiles

Physics, photonics, engineering, biomedicine

Required materials

Lab coat, laptop

Coordinator of the project
Romain Quidant

Romain Quidant

Romain Quidant received his PhD in Physics in 2002 from the University of Dijon (France). Since then he has worked in Barcelona at ICFO in the field of nanoplasmonics. In 2006, he was appointed junior Professor and junior group leader of the Plasmon NanoOptics group at ICFO. In 2009, he became ICREA Professor and tenure group leader at ICFO. His research focuses on the study of the optical properties of metal nano-structures, known as nanoplasmonics. The activities of his group cover both fundamental and applied research. The fundamental part of his work is mainly directed towards enhanced light/matter interaction for quantum optics. From a more applied viewpoint, his group investigates the use of light and heat control at the nanometer scale for biomedical applications, including early detection and less invasive therapies. His research trajectory has been acknowledged by several national and international prizes among which the Fresnel prize from the European Physics Society (2009), the prizes of the City of Barcelona (2010) and the Fundació Príncep de Girona (2011), the 2012 ICO prize from the International Commission for Optics and more recently the 2015 national prize for research (in the category young talent). In 2010 he obtained a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) that was complemented by an ERC Proof-of-concept grant in 2011. In 2015, Quidant was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant and another Proof of Concept grant.

Marta García

Marta García

Marta García-Matos is a physicist, mathematician, and writer. At ICFO’s outreach team, she is in charge of interdisciplinary programs involving people some way or another into science and light. She has designed exhibitions and workshops for Barcelona Science Museum CosmoCaixa, organizes annually the speculative fiction contest The Light on the Waves, and has recently published, together with ICFO’s director Lluis Torner, the book The Wonders of Light (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Silvia Carrasco

Silvia Carrasco

Silvia Carrasco (PhD, MBA) is director of the KTT Unit at ICFO since 2006, and was awarded with the “Fem Talent” award in February 2013. She is also vice-president of the Spanish mirror of the European Platform Photonics21, a Member of the Board of SECPhO, the Southern European Cluster in Photonics and Optics, and the founder of the “From Science to Business” Program that ICFO has launched in 2008 jointly with ESADE Business School, to promote the entrepreneurial spirit among young scientists.

Federica Beduini

Federica Beduini

Federica Beduini is a Italian physicist, who arrived to Barcelona in 2009 for a PhD in Quantum Optics at ICFO. She is now Outreach Project Manager at ICFO coordinating the educational activities that ICFO organises to spread the passion for light and photonics among young students. For the last Science Week, she organised the first Young Photonic Congress, where more than 80 students from Catalonia had the opportunity to explain their own research projects to their peers and to ICFO researchers.

Associated researchers
Jordi Morales-Dalmau

Jordi Morales-Dalmau

Jordi Morales‐Dalmau is a PhD student at the Institute of Photonics Sciences (ICFO) and he is currently working in the combination of nanotechnology with diffuse optics to
determine the best conditions for in vivo photothermal cancer therapy with gold nanoparticles. He obtained his degree in Physics in 2012 at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and his Master's degree in Photonics in 2013 at the Universitat Politècnica de Barcelona (UPC). 

Clara Vilches

Clara Vilches

Clara Vilches graduated on Biotechnology at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and did a master's degree in Biomedicine at Universitat de Barcelona (UB). She obtained her PhD in Biomedicine (UB) with a thesis focused on the molecular basis of amino acid transport in mice and inherited aminoacidurias. At ICFO, she is involved in the development of photothermal therapy with gold nanoparticles for cancer treatment.

Ignacio de Miguel

Ignacio de Miguel

Ignacio de Miguel obtained his Chemistry degree in 1982 at the University of Murcia followed by a PhD in Biotechnology  in 1989 at the Institute des Sciences Apliquées (INSA Toulouse, France). From 1990 to 2010 he participated in the development of several start-up companies in France based on nanomaterials applied to healthcare. He is currently research Engineer at ICFO involved in projects concerning the synthesis of metallic nanoparticles of different shapes and materials, their interaction with light and with other materials and surfaces.

Arantxa Albornoz Grados

Arantxa Albornoz Grados is a Research Engineer at the Institute of Photonics Sciences (ICFO) and she is working on the synthesis of different kinds of nanocomposite materials for biomedical applications. She obtained her Chemistry degree in 2015 at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona followed by Master’s degree in Organic Chemistry in 2016 at the Universitat de Barcelona (UB). 

The center
ICFO

The Institute of Photonic Science (ICFO) is a young research institution that aims to advance the very limits of knowledge in photonics, namely the science and technology of harnessing light.