Photonics for Life

Pr. Jean-Michel NUNZI

Canada Research Chair, Queen’s University, Canada.

Technology was often a drive for scientific development. However, besides what science can do for technologies several questions remain quite open, like do evolution, intelligence and the origins of life belong to what Physics can deal with? How may this happen? Self-organization naturally provides materials that can manipulate light and light-matter interactions in a manner that allows building new nano-photonic devices. With that inspiration, we show how light can naturally induce chiral structures [1], or help us design new light harvesting devices like near-IR photodetector using the rectification effect induced by dipole orientation in a thin film [2]. ‘New’ materials like two-dimensional transition metal di-chalcogenides also provide an interesting route to highly efficient light matter interaction processes [3]. We currently design device structures that allow the fabrication of hot electron-based photodetectors, which are highly sensitive to the NIR range, sensitive to polarization, as well as easy and cost-effective to fabricate. They are highly demanded devices for machine vision and recognition. In a preliminary step towards what we dream of to achieve globe cooling, we also extend our approach to self-organizing structures that permit radiation control from buildings and structures, in order to provide passive cooling or heating solutions under zero energy consumption.

[1] Mazaheri, L.; Lebel, O.; Nunzi, J.M. Transfer of chirality from light to a Disperse Red-1 molecular glass surface, Opt. Lett. 42 (2017) 4845.

[2] Mirzaee, S.M.A.; Lebel, O.; Nunzi, J.M. A simple unbiased hot-electron polarization-sensitive near-infrared photo-detector. ACS Appl. Mater. Inter. 10 (2018) 11862.

[3] Wang, L.; Zhang, S.; McEvoy, N.; Sun, Y.Y.; Huang, J.; Xie, Y.; Dong, N.; Zhang, X.; Kislyakov, I.M.; Nunzi, J.M.; Zhang, L.; Wang, J. Nonlinear Optical Signatures of Transition from Semiconductor to Semimetal in PtSe2. Laser & Photon. Rev. 13 (2019) 1900052.


Pr. Jean-Michel NUNZI : graduated from l’Ecole de Physique et Chime, Paris in 1982. He joined l’Ecole Polytechnique for a PhD on the nonlinear optics of surface plasma waves (plasmons). He was then hired as full-time Researcher in Organic Photonics at the Atomic Energy Commission (Saclay) in 1984.

He joined the Department of Physics at the University of Angers as Professor in 2000, where he built the Plastic Solar Cells Technology Research Team.

He moved to Queen’s University as Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Chiral Photonics in 2006 and in Photonics for Life since 2013. He studies Self-organization, Organic and nano-Photonics, including the Chemistry, Instrumentation, Processing and Physics of nanomaterials and devices as well as their use for energy and sustainable development. His Google H-factor is 53.