Nanophotonics have the greatest potential to impact future technology.
Our goal is to explore new nonlinear light-matter interaction phenomena and apply this knowledge to the design and fabrication of novel nanophotonic devices hitherto never envisioned.
We have developed a femtosecond-pulse three-dimensional laser writing (3DLW) technique with which we can modify with high precision the 3D structure of hard crystalline optical materials such as sapphire and yttrium aluminum garnet YAG (see Ródenas et al. Nature Photonics 2019). This technique relies on a nonlinear multiphoton absorption process taking place at the nanoscale inside a crystal, and which produces a new crystalline phase with an enhanced chemical reactivity. The process enabled us to create a revolutionary 3D nanolithography technique with a nanopore etching selectivity of five orders of magnitude. This technological leap has enabled the fabrication of a new class of photonic devices: nano engineered crystals (NECs).
Extreme Environment Photonics
We target new industrial and technological applications where “standard” photonic technologies (e.g. metallic plasmonics, silicon photonics, or any heterogeneous materials platform) would simply malfunction, breakdown or even melt. Nanotechnology-based extreme environment sensing is a crosscutting emerging research field present in the development roadmaps of many key technological areas. The need for these sensors comes from strategic industries which deal with physico-chemical conditions where standard materials are unusable. Extreme harsh conditions include oceanic permanent exposure and biofouling, strongly ionizing radiation, high erosion, high corrosion, or even temperatures beyond 1600ºC in aerospace applications. Some of the key industries which must deal with these extremes include the aircraft and space fields (engines, structures and space rovers), biotechnology and environmental monitoring, and others like the geothermal, nuclear, wellbore exploration, or hazardous-chemicals high-tech industries. This wide strategic need for extreme environment sensors can be sub-divided into two categories: environmental monitoring, and sensors for the health and efficiency self-monitoring of key systems. The rule of thumb for the success of an extreme environment sensing technology is the design of instruments that are naturally made of resistant materials, are sufficiently small to have a minimum mass and footprint impact, and yet are sophisticated enough to conduct the kinds of biological, chemical or physical analyses needed.
Our work ranges from fundamental light-matter interactions for novel laser-based nanofabrication techniques, to the development of novel 3D photonic components from the idea, to numerical simulation, fabrication and prototyping.
The Leap Lab is based on the Physics Department of the Universidad de La Laguna (ULL, Spain) and belongs to the Institute of Advanced Studies in Atomic and Molecular Physics and Photonics (IUdEA). It is led by Dr. Airán Ródenas, currently a Ramón y Cajal Fellow tenure-track ULL professor.