Light and Complexity

Founding Body: ERC Starting Grant (StG), PE2, ERC-2007-StG
Total grant: € 1085k
Principal Investigator: Claudio Conti
Other participants:
Project duration: 2008-2013

The project is aimed at funding a multi-disciplinary laboratory on nonlinear optics and photonics in soft-colloidal materials and on “complex lightwave systems”. A team of talented young researchers, divided among experiments, theory, parallel computation and nano-fabrication is involved. The proposed research will foster several breakthrough discoveries from soft-matter to biophysics, from nonlinear and integrated optics to the science of complexity and cryptography. The underlying vision is driven by the physics of complex systems, those displaying a large number of thermodynamically equivalent states and emergent properties. There are 4 original and high-impact activities, which explore applicative potentialities: 1) sub-wavelength light filaments in soft- and bio-matter; 2) lasers in soft-matter and bio-tissues; 3) control of soft-matter lasers by light filaments; 4) complex lightwave systems, encryption by nano-structured disordered lasers. Activity 1 will lead to ultra-thin re-addressable light beams (sub-wavelength spatial solitons) propagating in soft- and bio-matter that can be used in laser-surgery, matter manipulation and able to guide high power laser pulses; activity 2 attains novel structural diagnostic techniques in bone tissue surpassing limits of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, and assesses the field of lasers in soft-materials; activity 3 will demonstrate the control of self-organization processes in soft-matter by light filaments probed by laser emission; activity 4 is based on specific features mutuated from spin-glass theory, and will realize a novel cryptographic technique superior to chaotic systems in terms of security. Activity 1 and 2 are propaedeutic to the others. The team is composed by the Principal Investigator (P.I.), 4 post-doctoral researchers and 3 Ph.D. students. The budget will be used for paying the P.I., two post-doctoral positions, laser sources, high performance computing facilities, and instrumentation.