Fysikforskarna Timur Shegai och Eva Olsson
Timur Shegai and Eva Olsson at the Department of Physics at Chalmers have been granted 25 million kronor by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. In their new project they will explore strong light-matter coupling, where light and matter intermix to form new compositional light-matter quasi-particles called polaritons. Their hybrid character gives polaritons a set of intriguing optical and electronic properties.​​​​​​
Photo: Johan Bodell

Prestigious grant to explore strong light-matter coupling

Researchers from Chalmers have been awarded 25 million kronor through a prestigious project grant from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Over five years, physicists Eva Olsson and Timur Shegai will seek answers to fundamental questions about the interaction between light and matter at room temperature.
“We look forward to combining unique cutting-edge abilities and building a platform for new knowledge about the interaction between light and matter.  We can dive even deeper and push the boundaries of what is possible to understand of both time and space,” says Professor Eva Olsson at the Department of Physics at Chalmers.

Eva Olsson’s research focuses on investigating materials with the help of electrons exploring properties down to the atomic level. Timur Shegai researches into the same area, but with the help of light studying ultrafast interactions. In the new project, they will combine light, matter, theory and experimentation, together with Chalmers colleagues Ermin Malic and Paul Erhart, as well as Laszlo Veisz at Umea University. In their new project they will explore strong light-matter coupling, where light and matter intermix to form new compositional light-matter quasi-particles called polaritons. Their hybrid character gives polaritons a set of intriguing optical and electronic properties.

Tailoring strong light-matter coupling at room temperature is an important challenge, since today’s quantum technology needs extremely low temperatures and advanced laboratories. Through developing a concept which can work at room temperature, the researchers can create sought after opportunities. 

 “We can open doors to new applications in society, such as ultrafast optical switches, quantum information and new energy-saving light sources, for example. Light and matter exist everywhere around us and are essential to our lives. This new knowledge could also be used to customise material properties​, for example the reactivity of chemicals,” says Timur Shegai, Associate Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers. 

In total, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has awarded 640 million kronor to 20 pre-eminent basic research projects in the fields of medicine, natural sciences and technology. The projects are seen as offering potential for future scientific breakthroughs.

The new Chalmers-led project is called “Plasmon-exciton coupling at the attosecond-subnanometer scale: Tailoring strong light-matter interactions at room temperature”​

Text: Mia Halleröd Palmgren, mia.hallerodpalmgren@chalmers.se​​

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation supports Swedish basic research and education, primarily in medicine, technology and the natural sciences. This is achieved by awarding grants to excellent researchers and projects. SEK 30 billion in grants has been awarded since the Foundation was established, with annual funding of SEK 1.8 billion in recent years, making the Foundation the largest private funder of scientific research in Sweden, and one of the largest in Europe.

Published: Tue 01 Oct 2019. Modified: Tue 01 Oct 2019