The rapid development of nanoscale science and technology not only permits explorations of advanced scientific ideas and observations of unprecedented phenomena, but also offers practical solutions to the world’s most serious issues such as energy and pollution crises, health and food safety concerns, as well as military and homeland security needs. Exploiting and enhancing the originally weak light-matter interactions, we will be able to devise better imaging and manufacturing tools, to catalyze more efficient photochemical reactions, to sense and to diagnose contaminants at single molecule levels.
This talk will be focusing on how judiciously designed nanostructures and materials can tailor and eventually control the light-matter interactions at the deep-sub-wavelength scale. I will illustrate these design principles by using specific examples. In particular, I will elaborate the strategies to harvest substantial amount of energy-efficient emissions from a sub-wavelength laser cavity and to achieve close-to-unit utilization of light, providing coherent sources at the nanoscale. These nanolasers can perform much brighter and faster when quantum engineering is employed and show great potential in ultra-trace chemical sensing. More interestingly, introducing uniquely structured quantum materials such as monoatomic layer transition metal dichalcogenides, the light-matter interaction at the nanoscale senses the atomic structural and topological symmetries that are embedded in the system, revealing the fascinating physics and redefining the applications based on these unique physical processes. I will discuss some of the preliminary assessments of the observed valley physics and illustrate the structure and function relationship in these impactful materials that have been widely utilized in both mechanical systems and energy sciences.