The interaction of light with matter is one of the most important fields of physics. Many of the phenomena are in the forefront of basic research interest, while the technologies using optical phenomena are becoming indispensable in a large part of modern industry. At the same time optical and spectroscopic methods are among the most fundamental in a large part of physics and material science. The proposed research programme comprises fundamental research and possible applications in photonics, information technology, and medicine.
The programme is composed of four parts:
1. optical investigations of phenomena and properties of soft matter;
2. optical micro structuring and micro manipulation;
3. biomedical optics;
4. nonlinear and integrated optics.
In soft matter research we will focus on properties of the magnetic liquid crystal suspensions that we recently discovered and extend the work to other liquid crystal phases besides nematic. Particularly interesting is magnetic composite with LC elastomers. We will continue the work on supramolecular assembly of guanosine derivatives in view of their biological importance.
In cooperation with our industrial partners we will continue development of direct laser photolitography and microstructuring techniques. Our goal is to reduce the size of the microstructures produced by a rapid prototyping direct laser structuring system by an order of magnitude into the sub 100 nm range while maintaining the high processing speed. Visco-elastic properties of inhomogeneous polymeric solutions play an important role in biofilm formation and also influence its biological function. We will investigate visco-elastic properties of levan-DNA mixtures, which are a model system for extracellular matrix, by using active laser tweezers microrheology.
In biomedical optics diversity of interaction processes between light and various biological tissues offer numerous possibilities for development of noninvasive diagnostic methods, imaging techniques, and therapeutic procedures. Such a development depends on research of physical and physiological processes involved in a specific laser-tissue interaction, numerical modelling of the procedures, testing in dedicated in vitro models or ex vivo samples, and studies involving test animals or human volunteers.
Integrated optics combined with nonlinear effects has a great potential to allow new applications in the UV and THz spectral range, especially with the use of wide band-gap semiconductors and newly developed organic crystals. Our goal is to maximize nonlinear effects by structuring new optical materials to fulfil the vital requirements: the phases of light beams that are involved in the interaction must match and the optical power must be concentrated over longer distances.