Light-Matter Interactions in Engineered Optical Media

  • October 06, 2015
  • 7:00 PM
  • UR/ LLE East Lobby

Light-Matter Interactions in Engineered Optical Media

Natalia M. Litchinitser


University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Abstract: In this talk, we consider fundamental optical phenomena at the interface of singular and nonlinear optics in artificial media, including theoretical and experimental studies of linear and nonlinear light-matter interactions of vector and singular optical beams in metamaterials.  We show that unique optical properties of metamaterials open unlimited prospects to “engineer” light itself. Thanks to their ability to manipulate both electric and magnetic field components, metamaterials open new degrees of freedom for tailoring complex polarization states and orbital angular momentum (OAM) of light. We will discuss several approaches to structured light manipulation on the nanoscale using metal-dielectric, all-dielectric and hyperbolic metamaterials. These new functionalities, including polarization and OAM conversion, beam magnification and de-magnification, and sub-wavelength imaging using novel non-resonant hyperlens are likely to enable a new generation of on-chip or all-fiber structured light applications.

The emergence of metamaterials also has a strong potential to enable a plethora of novel nonlinear light-matter interactions and even new nonlinear materials. In particular, nonlinear focusing and defocusing effects are of paramount importance for manipulation of the minimum focusing spot size of structured light beams necessary for nanoscale trapping, manipulation, and fundamental spectroscopic studies. Colloidal suspensions offer as a promising platform for engineering polarizibilities and realization of large and tunable nonlinearities. We will present our recent studies of the phenomenon of spatial modulational instability leading to laser beam filamentation in an engineered soft-matter nonlinear medium.

Finally, we introduce so-called virtual hyperbolic metamaterials formed by an array of plasma channels in air as a result of self-focusing of an intense laser pulse, and show that such structure can be used to manipulate microwave beams in a free space.

Bio: Natalia Litchinitser is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at University at Buffalo, The State University of New York and a Visiting Professor at Chiba University, Japan. Her group research focuses on fundamental properties and applications structured light in metamaterials, biomedical imaging, optical communications and nonlinear optics. Natalia M. Litchinitser earned her Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in Physics from Moscow State University in Russia. She completed postdoctoral training at the Institute of Optics, University of Rochester in 2000. Prof. Litchinitser joined the faculty of the department of Electrical Engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo as Assistant Professor in 2008. Natalia Litchinitser previously held a position of a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies and of a Senior Member of Technical Staff at Tyco Submarine Systems. Natalia Litchinitser’s research interests include linear and nonlinear optics in metamaterials, singular optics, light filamentation, topological photonics, and optical communications. She authored 7 invited book chapters, over 100 journal and conference research papers. She is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a Senior Member of the IEEE. She holds grants from US National Science Foundation, US Army Research Office, and Department of Energy. She is a recipient of The 2014 Exceptional Scholar Award for Sustained Achievement.


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