The QIRON (Quantum Interactions with Nanoparticles) laboratory is based at Macquarie University.
The aim of the laboratory is to study and control the properties of the smallest structures that can be fabricated to date. In particular, we are interested in controlling the quantum properties of metallic structures. The fabrication capabilities that exist nowadays allow for realization of a diversity of geometries on the nanoscale, i.e. structures with features with sizes in one part in a million of a millimeter. These particles can confine an electron gas (plasma) in a very small volume, which can then couple very strongly with optical fields forming so called plasmons.
In our laboratory, we combine the techniques of quantum optics and nanooptics in order to discover new physical phenomena at those scales. In the laboratory we prepare quantum sources of light to interact with very small particles and structures. Our quantum sources of light emit optical radiation in a very special state. We take the smallest amount of light that Nature allows, the photon, and engineer states of light with just a few photons which are strongly correlated in their properties: timing, colour, direction, etc. These correlations are much stronger than any classical source of light, like a laser or a bulb, can produce. We use these properties to control and measure with a much higher precision our small structures. The laboratory is equipped with a set of tools which allows us to control the properties of light in a very precise manner. We can control the angular momentum of the light (the amount of torque that light can transfer to material particles) with spatial light modulators, we have laser sources capable of producing very short pulses of light (around 100 femtosecond) and also very stable continuous wave lasers with very small bandwidths.
Our new laboratory is fully functional and has seen the first levitated nanodiamond in Australia. This opens a new regime in the control of nanodiamonds and nanoparticles in general.