FIP Seminar: Fundamental limits in nanophotonics
Much of the continuing appeal and challenge of electromagnetism stems from the same root: given some desired objective (enhancing radiation from a quantum emitter, the field intensity in a photovoltaic cell, the radiative cross section of an antenna) subject to some physical constraints (material compatibility, fabrication tolerances, or system size) there is currently no method for finding or assessing uniquely best wave solutions. While improvements in nanofabrication and computational methods have driven dramatic progress in expanding the range of achievable optical characteristics, they have also greatly increased design complexity. These developments have led to heightened relevance for the study of fundamental limits on optical response. Here, we review recent progress in our understanding of these limits with special focus on an emerging theoretical framework that combines computational optimization with conservation laws to yield physical limits capturing all relevant wave effects. Results pertaining to canonical electromagnetic problems such as thermal emission, scattering cross sections, Purcell enhancement, and power routing are presented.
Alejandro Rodriguez is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University and the Director of the Princeton Program in Materials Science and Engineering. He received B.S. and PhD degrees in Physics from MIT in 2006 and 2010, and held joint post-doctoral positions at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University and at the Department of Mathematics at MIT. His research interests lie in the general area of nanophotonics, with a focus on nonlinear optics, numerical methods, large-scale optimization, and fluctuation phenomena. Prof. Rodriguez was recently awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Young Investigator Award. He was also named a Department of Energy Fredrick Howes Fellow. Alejandro was born in Havana, Cuba-a byproduct of loud rumbas, a family of physics enthusiasts, and afro-cuban folklore.