EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials (PhD studentship): Nanoscale Infrared Biomolecule Spectroscopy (NIBS)

University of Exeter - Departments of Physics and Engineering

Joint supervisors: Geoff Nash, JJ Phillips, Isaac Luxmoore

Infrared microscopy is a powerful and well-established tool for the chemical identification of biomolecules through their vibrational fingerprints. However, the spatial resolution of conventional systems are inherently limited by the diffraction limit of light. In these systems the light therefore interacts with a huge number of molecules and the information gained relates to that of an “average” molecule within this sample. In this work we aim to investigate a new approach to sub-wavelength IR spectroscopy that exploits the unique properties of graphene, a 2D sheet of carbon atoms. Using this approach light can be confined to a volume much smaller than its wavelength, an effect which has been recently exploited (Rodrigo et al, Science 2015) to undertake initial proof-of-principle spectroscopy of proteins.

In parallel, Prof. Nash, Dr Luxmoore and their collaborators [1,2] have developed a novel method for increasing the concentration of light further by integrating graphene nano-ribbons into an electromagnetic metamaterial. The effect of the latter is to greatly increase (by at least an order of magnitude) the interaction between the light and the graphene, which ultimately could allow high sensitivity, nanoscale, spectroscopy of individual biomolecules.

The aim of this studentship will be to extend the work much further by improving the graphene-metamaterial hybrid with the aim of undertaking single molecule spectroscopy.

[1] P. Q. Liu, I. J. Luxmoore, S. A. Mikhailov, N. A. Savostianova, F. Valmorra, J. Faist, and G. R. Nash, Nature Communications 6, 8969 (2015).
[2] I. J. Luxmoore, P. Q. Liu, P. Li,  J. Faist, and G. R. Nash, “Graphene−Metamaterial Photodetectors for Integrated Infrared Sensing”,  ACS Photonics 3, 936 (2016).

This studentship is part of the Centre of Doctoral Training in Metamaterials. Please see all fully funded opportunities.

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