Using AI-algorithms for optimizing the optical response of plasmonic nanophotonics

Plasmonic nano-antennas can confine and manipulate light at the nanoscale, which can be applied in a wide variety of applications such as molecular sensing, biomedical imaging, and light-driven catalysis. The use of simulation software can help to model the nanostructures before we fabricate them, but it can be time-consuming and complex to find the optimal design.

AI-based optimization algorithms can be used to efficiently explore a large search space of possible solutions and find the best design for a given set of constraints and parameters. However, what is still missing is a faster optimization algorithm that can be applied for a variety of optical optimizations.

To close this gap, the goals of this MSc research project is to (1) effectively combine optical Finite Element Modelling (FEM) with a python-based “Bayesian” optimization algorithm and (2) apply this modelling approach to find the optimal nanostructure for a representative objective (for example, optical sensing performance or maximum light-induced heat generation).

The project will provide hands-on experience in using state-of-the-art simulation tools and applying algorithms to optimize real-world problems. The outcomes of this research have the potential to advance our ability to detect chemicals or biomolecules and facilitate more efficient light-driven chemical reactions. This could have significant implications for fields like disease detection and sustainable energy production.

The project is supervised by experienced researchers in nanophotonics and plasmonics (Andrea Baldi & Sven Askes) and in optimization algorithms for engineering (Boukje de Gooijer) and will be hosted by the PhotoConversion Materials section at the Vrije Universiteit. You will have access to our powerful computational server with optical simulation tools (Lumerical FDTD, COMSOL, and MATLAB MNPBEM).

Perhaps most importantly, we are a kind and supportive group of people who are serious about supervision and mentorship. We hope to work with you on this exciting project!