Project period: July 2016 – March 2017

GW4 community leads

University of Bath: G. Dan Pantos 
University of Bristol: Sara Nunez-Sanchez, Ruth Oulton, Martin James Cryan 
Cardiff University: Stephen A Lynch 
University of Exeter: William Leslie Barnes (PI) 

Project overview

We will address the development of photonic applications for molecular materials by combining multidisciplinary expertise and perspective from the four South West Universities (Exeter, Bristol, Cardiff and Bath) including plasmonicsnanophotonics, quantum photonics, ultrafast spectroscopy or supramolecular chemistry. 


Plastics have been explored in photonics for lighting devices and waveguides, but their use for nanophotonics is completely new. Our approach is towards a special type of plastic that could be used as a substitute for the metals used in plasmonics, the ‘traditional’ way to confine light at the nanoscale. This is achieved by doping plastics with molecules that induce metal-like properties, enabling confinement and processing of light at the nanoscale. Understanding these materials will require a multidisciplinary approach from fundamental concepts in molecular photophysics to intermolecular interactions and optical properties, all the way to a more engineering-based approach for creating new building blocks involving photonic designs that span from nanoscale to microscale. 

Project summary 

The funds were used to support two types of activity – project meetings and exchange visits. These helped the community to understand the capabilities and expertise of the GW4 partners and plan for future collaborations, as well as piloting techniques for working with the molecular materials relevant to photonic applications. Several grant applications emerged from this work, including the participation of members of the community in a successful £5M EPSRC bid “Molecular Photonic Breadboards”, led by the University of Sheffield in 2019