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  Svetlana V. Boriskina, PhD




NanoEngineering Group

  Mechanical Engineering Department

Massachusetts Institute of Technology











Slides & movies

Special issues & sessions



Last updated: 21 Nov 2016



September 2016

Energy generation from heat with a solar cell built backwards

Solar cells absorb incoming sunlight and convert a part of photon energy into electricity. The remainder of photon energy is dissipated as heat. Although the idea is rather counter-intuitive, 'reverse solar cell' systems can also generate electric power by emitting rather than absorbing photons. Such systems - known as thermoradiative cells - generate voltage and electric power via non-equilibrium thermal radiation of infrared photons. Thermoradiative cells offer an opportunity to generate clean energy by harvesting radiation from largely untapped terrestrial thermal emission sources, potentially including the Earth itself.

Scientific Reports Article: "Entropic and Near-Field Improvements of Thermoradiative Cells"


August 2016
MIT scientists invent solar-powered sponge that can boil water

Foam, specially-coated copper, and bubble wrap are components of a simple but innovative new device that can boil water without electricity, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced.

The system, which MIT compares to a sponge, can heat water to 212 degrees under just the heat of the sun, and could be used for applications like sterilizing medical tools in settings without electricity. It even works on cloudy days, the university said, and a key point is that it does not need mirrors or lenses to help focus the sun’s energy.

Nature Energy Article: "Steam generation under one sun enabled by a floating structure with thermal concentration"

August 2016

Controlling light and heat on the nanoscale with hybrid optical-thermal antennas

Localization of photons to nanoscale volumes with the aid of plasmonic nanoantennas opened new horizons in bio(chemical) sensing and nanoscale imaging. However, plasmon resonances are short-lived, and the photon energy quickly dissipates as heat, creating temperature gradients on plasmonic chips. In new work, researchers have proposed design rules to engineer hybrid optical-thermal antennas that offer multiple functionalities in nanoscale light and heat management.

ASC Photonics Article: "Hybrid optical-thermal antennas for enhanced light focusing and local temperature control"

9 May 2016

Nanophotonics webinar

In this webinar, I discuss approaches to reduce plasmonic losses, such as modification of optical powerflow on the nanoscale, hybrid photonic-plasmonic integration, and radiative cooling. I will also give an overview of emerging applications of thermoplasmonics, which include thermocatalysis, solar water treatment, cancer therapy, material spectroscopy, nanofabrication, nanomanipulation, and magnetic recording. The recorded presentation together with the slides is now available here.

January 2015

I was elected to serve as a Board Member on the Editorial Advisory Committee of Optics & Photonics News.


October 2015

Volumetric solar heating of nanofluids for direct vapor generation

G. Ni, N. Miljkovic, H. Ghasemi, X. Huang, S.V. Boriskina, C.-T. Lin, J.J. Wang, Y. Xu, M.M. Rahman, T.J. Zhang, G. Chen, Nano Energy,
v. 17, pp. 290–301, 2015.

Traditional solar–thermal receivers suffer from high surface temperatures, which increase heat losses to the surroundings. To improve performance, volumetric receivers based on nanoparticles suspended in liquid (nanofluids) have been studied as an approach to reduce surface losses by localizing high temperatures to the interior of the receiver. Here, we report measured vapor generation efficiencies of 69% at solar concentrations of 10 sun using graphitized carbon black, carbon black, and graphene suspended in water, representing a significant improvement in both transient and steady-state performance over previously reported results. To elucidate the vapor generation mechanism and validate our experimental results, we develop numerical and analytical heat transfer models that suggest that nanofluid heating and vapor generation occur due to classical global heating of the suspension fluid. This work demonstrates high nanofluid-assisted vapor generation efficiencies with potential applications in power generation, distillation, and sterilization.

July/August 2015

Our paper on personal radiative cooling is highlighted by MIT Technology Review & Nature Materials

"Infrared-transparent visible-opaque fabrics for wearable personal thermal management," ASC Photonics, 2 (6), pp 769–778, 2015

MIT Technology Review: How Next-Generation Fabrics Will Keep You Cool in Summer Heat
"Fabrics that are transparent in the infrared can radiate body heat at rates that will significantly reduce the burden on power-hungry air-conditioning systems."

Nature Materials: Material witness: Could polythene clothes be cool?
"Is there a better way of staying cool than filling our entire living spaces with blasts of cold air? There is, but cooling technologies that work at the level of individual people are generally expensive and/or cumbersome, and so are limited to specialized situations, for example in the military or sports. ... Tong et al. suggest that cheap passive cooling might be achieved with a fabric that is transparent to IR yet opaque to visible light. But can that be made?"

July 2015

Nature Photonics News & Views: Impossible Crystals make Invisible Materials

All-dielectric photonic quasicrystals may act as zero-refractive-index homogeneous materials despite their lack of translational symmetry and periodicity, stretching wavelengths to infinity and offering applications in light wavefront sculpting and optical cloaking.

This News & Views also gives a brief intro into photonic quasicrystals and  general recipes on designing zero-index metamaterials.

July 2015

Read a report on the discussions held at the recent OSA Incubator on Breaking the Limits of Optical Energy Conversion, published in Optics & Photonics News (OPN)

The goal of the OSA Incubator was to map future research directions in the optical energy conversion. To this end, we examined various conversion platforms – old and new – through the prism of what their ultimate performance limits are. It was clear that some of the technologies almost reached their ceiling, while others show high promise that is elusive in practical implementations. We hope that Incubator discussions will guide research community and funding agencies in the development of new conversion platforms capable of harvesting the whole solar spectrum. These may combine photovoltaic cells, solar-thermal engines, advanced concentrators, spectrum splitters, energy converters, thermal emitters, and storage elements.

June 1, 2015

Jonathan K. Tong, Wei-Chun Hsu, Yi Huang, Svetlana V. Boriskina & Gang Chen
Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 10661 doi:10.1038/srep10661

A new approach is introduced to significantly improve the performance of thermophotovoltaic (TPV) systems using low-dimensional thermal emitters and photovoltaic (PV) cells. By reducing the thickness of both the emitter and the PV cell, strong spectral selectivity in thermal emission and absorption can be achieved by confining photons in trapped waveguide modes inside the thin-films that act as thermal analogs to quantum wells. Simultaneously, photo-excited carriers travel shorter distances across the thin-films reducing bulk recombination losses resulting in a lower saturation current in the PV cell. We predict a TPV efficiency enhancement with near-field coupling between the thermal emitter and the PV cell up to 38.7% using a thin-film germanium (Ge) emitter at 1000 K and an ultra-thin gallium antimonide (GaSb) cell supported by perfect back reflectors separated by 100 nm. Even in the far-field limit, the efficiency is predicted to reach 31.5%, which is over an order of magnitude higher than the Shockley Queisser limit of 1.6% for a bulk GaSb cell and a blackbody emitter at 1000 K. The proposed design approach does not require nanoscale patterning of the emitter and PV cell surfaces, but instead offers a simple low-cost solution to improve the performance of thermophotovoltaic systems.

June 2, 2015

May 2015

Perspective: Directed Assembly of Optoplasmonic Hybrid Materials with Tunable Photonic–Plasmonic Properties

J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2015, 6, pp 2056–2064

Optoplasmonic materials are metallo-dielectric hybrid structures that combine metallic and dielectric components in defined geometries in which plasmonic and photonic modes synergistically interact. These beneficial interactions can be harnessed by integrating plasmonic nanoantennas into defined photonic environments generated, for instance, by discrete optical resonators or extended systems of diffractively coupled nanoparticles. Optoplasmonic structures facilitate photonic–plasmonic mode coupling and offer degrees of freedom for creating optical fields with predefined amplitude and phase in space and time that are absent in conventional photonic or plasmonic structures. This Perspective reviews the fundamental electromagnetic mechanisms underlying selected optoplasmonic approaches with an emphasis on materials available through template-guided self-assembly strategies.

24 April 2015


L.A. Weinstein, W.-C. Hsu, S. Yerci, S.V. Boriskina, and G. Chen, "Enhanced absorption of thin-film photovoltaic cells using an optical cavity," J. of Optics, vol. 17, no. 5, 055901, 2015.

was named a "Paper of the Week" by the Journal of Optics.

1 April 2015

15.7% Efficient 10-μm-Thick Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells Using Periodic Nanostructures

Advanced Materials, 27(13), 2268, 2015.

We report on the fabrication of crystalline silicon solar cells, only 10 μm thick, with a record peak conversion efficiency of 15.7%. Efficient crystalline silicon photovoltaics of such thinness are enabled by an advanced light-trapping design incorporating a two-dimensional inverted pyramid photonic crystal. 

1 Feb 2015

Novel Optical Materials and Applications (NOMA) meeting invites submissions in the field of Novel Materials for Solar Energy Applications.

Optical Sensors (Sensors) meeting invites submissions in the field of Nanophotonic and Plasmonic Biosensors.

Both meeting will be a part of the Optics and Photonics Congress: Advanced Photonics to be held in Boston, USA on 27 June - 01 July 2015.

Abstract submission deadline is March 10, 2015.

1 Jan 2015
I am excited to join the Editorial Board of the Journal of Optics as a Topical Editor for Propagation, Diffraction and Scattering

January 2015

The Special Session on Photonic Atoms and Molecules (PAM) that I organize and chair @ ICTON 2015 in Budapest, Hungary, July 5-9, 2015 is currently accepting  contributions.

More info


December 2015

I am excited to join the Technical Program Committee of the META 2015 Conference to be held in New York, NY on 4-7 August 2015.

META’15, the 6th International Conference on Metamaterials, Photonic Crystals & Plasmonics will cover the entire spectrum of electromagnetic & nanophotonic complex materials.

December 2014

Y. Huang, S.V. Boriskina and G. Chen, "Electrically tunable near-field radiative heat transfer via ferroelectric materials," Appl. Phys. Lett., 105, 244102, 2014.

We explore ways to actively control near-field radiative heat transfer between two surfaces that relies on electrical tuning of phonon modes of ferroelectric materials. Ferroelectrics are widely used for tunable electrical devices, such as capacitors and memory devices; however, their tunable properties have not yet been examined for heat transfer applications. We show via simulations that radiative heat transfer between two ferroelectric materials can be enhanced by over two orders of magnitude over the blackbody limit in the near field, and can be tuned as much as 16.5% by modulating the coupling between surface phonon polariton modes at the two surfaces via varying external electric fields.

October 2014

Singular and Chiral Nanoplasmonics
has been published by Pan Stanford, Singapore, Editors: S.V. Boriskina and N.I. Zheludev

“This book provides excellent and comprehensive discussions of the rapidly emerging field of chiral nanoplasmonics .  The individual chapters are authored by some of the pioneers of the field and provide a broad overview of a wide range of subtopics.  The book will undoubtedly serve as the standard reference for many years to come and will be a source of inspiration for both students and senior researchers.”
Prof. Peter Nordlander - Rice University, USA

More reviews        Nature Photonics New Titles

Nov 12-14, 2014
I will be hosting an OSA Incubator meeting
The Fundamental Limits of Optical Energy Conversion

OSA Headquarters • 2010 Massachusetts Ave. NW • Washington, DC, USA

See blogs from the Incubator and videos of select presentations

1 Sept 2014
I am giving an invited talk on "Probing and Tailoring Near-Field Thermal Radiation at Extreme Separations" at NFO'13 - Near-Field Optics, Nanophotonics & Related Techniques - conference in Utah. 

July 2, 2014
I am charing a session on "Micro-Nano Materials for Energy Harvesting" @ ASME 2014 8th International Conference on Energy Sustainability - Boston, MA, July 2, 10am

June 2014
The new project "Full-Spectrum Stacked Solar-Thermal and PV Receiver" funded via ARPA-E FOCUS award has just started!

PI: Gang Chen (MIT)
Co-PIs: Evelyn Wang (MIT), Zhifeng Ren (University of Houston) & Svetlana V. Boriskina (MIT)

more info

June 18, 2014
Our Energy Frontiers Research Center - S3TEC has won the new round of funding from DOE for the next 4 years!

Funding announcement from DOE
S3TEC website

10 June 2014
OSA Technical Group “Optics for Energy” will be hosting an evening panel+networking session at CLEO 2014 in San Jose next week.

Svetlana V. Boriskina (MIT)
Alexander Kildishev (Purdue University)

Time & Venue:
Tuesday, June 10, 18:45-19:45 (panel discussion) 19:45-20:15 (networking time), Executive Ballroom 210F, San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, CA

more info

slides & movies of presentations

March 2014
For the next three years, I will serve as the Advisor and Chair of the OSA Technical Group “Optics for Energy.” The group focuses on all aspects of the use of optics in the energy field. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to get involved in the group activities.

March 14, 2014: The Art and Science of Solar Lights @ MIT Museum

Stop by the MIT museum to explore the beauty, function, and technological potential of solar lights through a series of discussions with MIT scientists and 2014 Eugene McDermott Award recipient Olafur Eliasson. I will be moderating a discussion on innovative materials. Delve into research that will improve materials for capturing and storing solar energy for lighting use, and brainstorm ways of creating solar lighting with flexible materials such as textiles and paper.

February 2014: The Special Session on Photonic Atoms and Molecules (PAM) @ ICTON 2014 to be held in Graz, Austria, July 6-10, 2014 is currently accepting accepting contributions.

More info



December 31, 2013: My book chapter "Plasmonics with a twist: taming optical tornadoes on the nanoscale," has been published in:  Plasmonics: Theory and applications (T.V. Shahbazyan and M.I. Stockman Eds.) Springer Book Series “Challenges and Advances in Computational Chemistry and Physics” 2013. It is currently the most-downloaded chapter of the book.

December 20, 2013:

Our recorded presentation:

S.V. Boriskina, S. Yerci, and G. Chen, “Hydrodynamic picture of light trapping in integrated photonic nanostructures and metamaterials,” 

was the most-watched talk of Frontiers in Optics Meeting, Orlando, FL, Oct. 2013

December 5, 2013: Our paper "Exceeding the solar cell Shockley-Queisser limit via thermal up-conversion of low-energy photons," Opt. Communicat. vol. 314, pp. 71–78, 2014 was highlighted in Nanowerk Spotlight.

Plasmonic Materials for Energy: from Physics to Applications

S.V. Boriskina, H. Ghasemi and G. Chen

Materials Today, vol. 16, pp. 379-390, 2013

© Elsevier

Physical mechanisms unique to plasmonic materials, which can be exploited for the existing and emerging applications of plasmonics for renewable energy technologies, are reviewed. The hybrid nature of surface plasmon (SP) modes – propagating surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) and localized surface plasmons (LSPs) – as collective photon–electron oscillations makes them attractive candidates for energy applications. A high density of optical states in the vicinity of plasmonic structures enhances light absorption and emission, enables localized heating, and drives near-field heat exchange between hot and cold surfaces. SP modes channel the energy of absorbed photons directly to the free electrons, and the generated hot electrons can be utilized in thermoelectric, photovoltaic and photo-catalytic
platforms. The advantages and disadvantages of using plasmonics over conventional technologies for solar energy and waste heat harvesting are discussed, and areas where plasmonics is expected to lead to performance improvements not achievable by other methods are identified.


September 12, 2013:  I am giving an invited seminar “Singular Nano-Photonics: Hydrodynamics-Inspired Light Trapping And Routing” for the Boston Chapter of the IEEE Photonics Society (Lincoln Lab, 6:30pm)


Demonstration of Efficient On-Chip Photon Transfer in Self-Assembled Optoplasmonic Networks

W. Ahn, Y. Hong, S.V. Boriskina, and B.M. Reinhard

ACS Nano, 7(5), 4470–4478, 2013

© ACS.

Plasmonic nanoantennas facilitate the manipulation of light fields on deeply sub-diffraction-limited length scales, but high dissipative losses in metals make new approaches for an efficient energy transfer in extended on-chip integrated plasmonic circuits mandatory. We demonstrate in this article efficient photon transfer in discrete optoplasmonic molecules comprising gold nanoparticle (NP) dimer antennas located in the evanescent field of a 2 μm diameter polystyrene bead, which served as an optical microcavity (OM). The optoplasmonic molecules were generated through a guided self-assembly strategy in which the OMs were immobilized in binding sites generated by quartz (SiO2) or silicon posts that contained plasmonic nanoantennas on their tips. Control of the post height facilitated an accurate positioning of the plasmonic antennas into the evanescent field of the whispering gallery modes located in the equatorial plane of the OM. Cy3 and Cy5.5 dyes were tethered to the plasmonic antennas through oligonucleotide spacers to act as on-chip light sources. The intensity of Cy3 was found to be increased relative to that of Cy5.5 in the vicinity of the plasmonic antennas where strongly enhanced electric field intensity and optical density of states selectively increase the excitation and emission rates of Cy3 due to spectral overlap with the plasmon. The fluorescent dyes preferentially emitted into the OM, which efficiently trapped and recirculated the photons. We experimentally determined a relative photon transfer efficiency of 44% in non-optimized self-assembled optoplasmonic molecules in this proof-of-principle study.


January 9 2013:  I am giving an invited talk “Pushing the limits of photovoltaic efficiency: thermal upconversion and enhanced trapping of twisted light” in the frame of the 43rd Winter Colloquium on the Physics of Quantum Electronics, Snowbird, Utah

Enhanced Light Focusing in Self-Assembled Optoplasmonic Clusters with Subwavelength Dimensions

Y. Hong, M. Pourmand, S.V. Boriskina, and B.M. Reinhard

Adv. Mat., 25(1), 115–119, 2013

© Wiley.

Compact metallo-dielectric hybrid clusters with subwavelength dimensions are fabricated by template guided self-assembly. Elastic and inelastic scattering spectroscopy and electromagnetic simulations reveal that hybrid clusters comprising TiO2 nanoparticles on top of a cluster of strongly coupled gold nanoparticles harness synergistic electromagnetic interactions between the building blocks. This results in a boost of the peak electric field intensity and a redistribution of the field in the ambient medium. The complex phase landscape in the clusters features optical vortices that enhance the magnetic field.




November 21, 2012:  I am giving a talk “Harnessing collective effects in photonic-plasmonic structures for
ultrasensitive detection and spectroscopy” in the frame of the Physics colloquium at UMass Boston on Wed, Nov 21, at 1pm.


October 3, 2012:  I am giving a talk “Taming optical tornadoes on a chip: hydrodynamics-inspired plasmonic nanocircuit design” in the frame of MIT MechE Micro Nano Seminar on Wed, October 3, at 4pm in Rm 3-270. Please, stop by if you are in Boston/Cambridge area and are interested in plasmonics research.


August 2012: Research on ultrasensitive protein detection with a photonic-plasmonic microcavity got some news coverage:





Preview of select pages of my upcoming book chapter  "Plasmonics with a twist: taming optical tornadoes on the nanoscale," which will appear in Plasmonics in metal nanostructures: Theory and applications (T.V. Shahbazyan and M.I. Stockman Eds.) Springer Book Series “Challenges and Advances in Computational Chemistry and Physics”



July 2012: Plasmonic vortices research has been highlighted in Sensor Review, vol. 32, issue 3: Developments in magnetoplasmonics and nanoplasmonics



I am teaching a short course on “Fundamentals & applications of plasmonics” at the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering in June 4 & 11, 2012. The course provides an intro to plasmonics for students and post-docs @ MIT MECHE. The course materials are available here.


Ultrasensitive detection of a protein by optical trapping in a photonic-plasmonic microcavity

M.A. Santiago-Cordoba, M. Cetnikaya, S.V. Boriskina, F. Vollmer, and M.C. Demirel, J. Biophoton, Early View, 2012

Microcavity and whispering gallery mode (WGM) biosensors derive their sensitivity from monitoring frequency shifts induced by protein binding at sites of highly confined field intensities, where field strengths can be further amplified by excitation of plasmon resonances in nanoparticle layers. Here, we propose a mechanism based on optical trapping of a protein at the site of plasmonic field enhancements for achieving ultra sensitive detection in only microliter-scale sample volumes, and in real-time. We demonstrate femto-Molar sensitivity corresponding to a few 1000 s of macromolecules. Simulations based on Mie theory agree well with the optical trapping concept at plasmonic ‘hotspots’ locations.


May 2012: I have been awarded an OSA Senior Member designation



NANOMETA 2013 - First call for papers is now out

The European Physical Society will organize the 4th international topical meeting on Nanophotonics and Metamaterials in Seefeld ski resort, Tirol, Austria on January 3-6, 2013.



Metamaterials & metadevices

Nanophotonics & nanibiophotonics

Plasmonic & plasmo-electronic devices

Nanophotonic, hybrid & quantum materials

Localization of light & optical super-resolution


Online paper submission window: Aug 1, 2012 - Oct 1, 2012



Recent Nanoscale Feature Article was #3 most-read paper once again in Jan 2012, #1 most-read in Feb 2012 & #7 most-read in March 2012; highlighted as a high impact plasmonic research by Nanoscale editor



On Feb 20, 2012 I move from Boston University to Massachusetts Institute of Technology - MIT Nanoengineering Group



Our recent ACS Nano paper was highlighted in the January 2012 edition of Nanotimes magazine - go to pages 77-78.



Recent Nanoscale Feature Article was #3 most-read paper in Dec 2011; designated as 'HOT article'



Research on plasmonically-integrated nanovortices got some news coverage


Nanowerk Spotlight



SPIE Photonics West 2012

LASE Conference

21 - 26 January 2012, San Francisco, California, USA


I will be giving an invited talk “Hybrid optoplasmonic elements for ultra-sensitive detection and information processing on the nanoscale” in the frame of the LASE Conference.



NNIN/C Conference - ENCON1
Synergy Between Experiment and Computation in Energy:

Looking to 2030
January 11-13, 2012 - Harvard University


I will be giving a talk “Plasmonically integrated optical tornadoes for efficient light harvesting” in the frame of the ENCON1 Conference.


Electromagnetic Field Enhancement and Spectrum Shaping through Plasmonically Integrated Optical Vortices

W. Ahn, S.V. Boriskina, Y. Hong and B.M. Reinhard

Nano Lett., 12 (1), 219–227, 2012.

© ASC.

We introduce a new design approach for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrates that is based on molding the optical powerflow through a sequence of coupled nanoscale optical vortices “pinned” to rationally designed plasmonic nanostructures, referred to as Vortex Nanogear Transmissions (VNTs). We fabricated VNTs composed of Au nanodiscs by electron beam lithography on quartz substrates and characterized their near- and far-field responses through combination of computational electromagnetism, and elastic and inelastic scattering spectroscopy. Pronounced dips in the far-field scattering spectra of VNTs provide experimental evidence for an efficient light trapping and circulation within the nanostructures. Furthermore, we demonstrate that VNT integration into periodic arrays of Au nanoparticles facilitates the generation of high E-field enhancements in the VNTs at multiple defined wavelengths. We show that spectrum shaping in nested VNT structures is achieved through an electromagnetic feed-mechanism driven by the coherent multiple scattering in the plasmonic arrays and that this process can be rationally controlled by tuning the array period. The ability to generate high E-field enhancements at predefined locations and frequencies makes nested VNTs interesting substrates for challenging SERS applications.




Photonic-Plasmonic Mode Coupling in On-Chip Integrated Optoplasmonic Molecules

W. Ahn, S.V. Boriskina, Y. Hong and B.M. Reinhard

ACS Nano, Article ASAP, 2012.

© ASC.

We investigate photonic–plasmonic mode coupling in a new class of optoplasmonic materials that comprise dielectric microspheres and noble metal nanostructures in a morphologically well-defined on-chip platform. Discrete networks of optoplasmonic elements, referred to as optoplasmonic molecules, were generated through a combination of top-down fabrication and template-guided self-assembly. This approach facilitated a precise and controllable vertical and horizontal positioning of the plasmonic elements relative to the whispering gallery mode (WGM) microspheres. The plasmonic nanostructures were positioned in or close to the equatorial plane of the dielectric microspheres where the fields associated with the plasmonic modes can synergistically interact with the evanescent fields of the WGMs. We characterized the far-field scattering spectra of discrete optoplasmonic molecules that comprised two coupled 2.048 μm diameter polystyrene microspheres each encircled by four 148 nm diameter Au nanoparticles (NPs), through far-field scattering spectroscopy. We observed a broadening of the TE and TM modes in the scattering spectra of the optoplasmonic dimers indicative of an efficient photonic–plasmonic mode coupling between the coupled photonic modes of the WGM resonators and the localized surface plasmon modes of the NPs. Our experimental findings are supported by generalized multiple particle Mie theory simulations, which provide additional information about the spatial distributions of the near fields associated with the photonic–plasmonic hybrid modes in the investigated optoplasmonic molecules. The simulations reveal partial localization of the spectrally sharp hybrid modes outside of the WGM microspheres on the Au NPs where the local E-field intensity is enhanced by approximately 2 orders of magnitude over that of an individual Au NP.


Molding the flow of light on the nanoscale: from vortex nanogears to phase-operated plasmonic machinery

S.V. Boriskina and B.M. Reinhard

Nanoscale, no. 4, pp. 76-90, 2012 [FEATURE ARTICLE].

[Full text .pdf  (1.22Mb)]   

© RSC; This article may be downloaded for personal use only.

Also check out a YouTube video:

Efficient delivery of light into nanoscale volumes by converting free photons into localized charge density oscillations (surface plasmons) enables technological innovation in various fields from biosensing to photovoltaics and quantum computing. Conventional plasmonic nanostructures are designed as nanoscale analogs of radioantennas and waveguides. Here, we discuss an alternative approach for plasmonic nanocircuit engineering that is based on molding the optical powerflow through ‘vortex nanogears’ around a landscape of local phase singularities ‘pinned’ to plasmonic nanostructures. We show that coupling of several vortex nanogears into transmission-like structures results in dramatic optical effects, which can be explained by invoking a hydrodynamic analogy of the ‘photon fluid’. The new concept of vortex nanogear transmissions (VNTs) provides new design principles for the development of complex multi-functional phase-operated photonics machinery and, therefore, generates unique opportunities for light generation, harvesting and processing on the nanoscale.






Design and Implementation of Noble Metal Nanoparticle Cluster Arrays for Plasmon Enhanced Biosensing

B. Yan, S.V. Boriskina and B.M. Reinhard

J. Phys. Chem C, Article ASAP, DOI: 10.1021/jp207821t, 2011.



Nanoparticle cluster arrays (NCAs) are a class of electromagnetic materials that comprise chemically defined nanoparticles assembled into clusters of defined size in an extended deterministic arrangement. NCAs are fabricated through integration of chemically synthesized building blocks into predefined patterns using a hybrid top-down/bottom-up fabrication approach that overcomes some of the limitations of conventional top-down fabrication methods with regard to minimum available feature size and structural complexity. NCAs can sustain near-field interactions between nanoparticles within individual clusters as well as between entire neighboring clusters. The availability of near-field interactions on multiple length scales, together with the ability to further enhance the coupled plasmon modes through photonic modes in carefully designed array morphologies, leads to a multiscale cascade electromagnetic field enhancement throughout the array. This feature article introduces the design and fabrication fundamentals of NCAs and characterizes the electromagnetic coupling mechanisms in the arrays. Furthermore, it reviews how the optical properties of NCAs can be tuned through the size and shape of the nanoparticle building blocks and the geometry, size, and separation of the assembled clusters. NCAs have potential applications in many different areas; this feature article focuses on plasmon enhanced biosensing and surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy, in particular.



Focus Issue of Optics Express

“Collective phenomena in photonic, plasmonic and hybrid structures”

24 October 2011


 Focus Issue of Optics Express on Collective Phenomena in Photonic, Plasmonic and Hybrid Structures that was published online on Mon Oct 24, 2011.

The combination of optical, electronic and mechanical effects occurring in devices and materials that have structure on the nanometer scale are being investigated by researchers around the world. These "collective phenomena" have applications as diverse as the generation of light, optical sensing, and information processing. To highlight the recent progress and trends in physics and applications in this area, the editors of Optics Express published a special focus issue on "Collective Phenomena in Photonic, Plasmonic and Hybrid Structures."

The preface to the Focus Issue that gives a brief introduction to all the invited papers is available here.


Guest Editors:

Svetlana V. Boriskina, Boston University, USA

Michelle Povinelli, University of Southern California, USA

Vasily N. Astratov, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA

Anatoly Zayats, King's College London, UK

Viktor A. Podolskiy, University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA



Adaptive on-Chip Control of Nano-Optical Fields with Optoplasmonic Vortex Nanogates

S.V. Boriskina and B.M. Reinhard

Optics Express, 19(22), 22305-22315, 2011.

[Full text .pdf  (1980 Kb)]   

© OSA; This is a free access article.

A major challenge for plasmonics as an enabling technology for quantum information processing is the realization of active spatio-temporal control of light on the nanoscale. The use of phase-shaped pulses or beams enforces specific requirements for on-chip integration and imposes strict design limitations. We introduce here an alternative approach, which is based on exploiting the strong sub-wavelength spatial phase modulation in the near-field of resonantly-excited high-Q optical microcavities integrated into plasmonic nanocircuits. Our theoretical analysis reveals the formation of areas of circulating powerflow (optical vortices) in the near-fields of optical microcavities, whose positions and mutual coupling can be controlled by tuning the microcavities parameters and the excitation wavelength. We show that optical powerflow though nanoscale plasmonic structures can be dynamically molded by engineering interactions of microcavity-induced optical vortices with noble-metal nanoparticles. The proposed strategy of re-configuring plasmonic nanocircuits via locally-addressable photonic elements opens the way to develop chip-integrated optoplasmonic switching architectures, which is crucial for implementation of quantum information nanocircuits.



Multi-wavelength mid-infrared plasmonic antennas with single nanoscale focal point

R. Blanchard, S.V. Boriskina, P. Genevet, M.A. Kats, J.-P. Tetienne, N. Yu, M.O. Scully, L. Dal Negro, and F. Capasso

Optics Express, 19(22), 22113, 2011.

[Full text .pdf  (1635 Kb)]   

© OSA; This is a free access article.

We propose and demonstrate a novel photonic-plasmonic antenna capable of confining electromagnetic radiation at several mid-infrared wavelengths to a single sub-wavelength spot. The structure relies on the coupling between the localized surface plasmon resonance of a bow-tie nanoantenna with the photonic modes of surrounding multi-periodic particle arrays. Far-field measurements of the transmission through the central bow-tie demonstrate the presence of Fano-like interference effects resulting from the interaction of the bow-tie antenna with the surrounding nanoparticle arrays. The near-field of the multi-wavelength antenna is imaged using an aperture-less near-field scanning optical microscope. This antenna is relevant for the development of near-field probes for nanoimaging, spectroscopy and biosensing.




Research on hybrid optoplasmonic sensors and quantum-optical network elements highlighted in the August 2011 issue of NanoTimes magazine



IEEE Photonics 2011 Conference (IPC11)

(formally Photonics Society Annual Meeting)

Arlington, Virginia | 9 - 13 October 2011


I will be giving an invited talk “Hybrid optoplasmonic microresonators and networks” in the frame of the Special Symposium on Innovative Optical Microresonators.


Nanoparticle-based protein detection by optical shift of a resonant microcavity

M.A. Santiago-Cordoba, S.V. Boriskina, F. Vollmer and M.C. Demirel

Appl. Phys. Lett., 99, 073701, 2011.

[Full text .pdf  (872 Kb)]   

© AIP; This article may be downloaded for personal use only.



We demonstrated a biosensing approach which, for the first time, combines the high sensitivity of whispering gallery modes (WGMs) with a metallic nanoparticle-based assay. We provided a computational model based on generalized Mie theory to explain the higher sensitivity of protein detection. We quantitatively analyzed the binding of a model protein (i.e., Bovine Serum Albumin) to gold nanoparticles from high-Q WGM resonance frequency shifts, and fit the results to an adsorption isotherm, which agrees with the theoretical predictions of a two-component adsorption model.


Illuminating Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Densities on Filopodia through Plasmon Coupling

J. Wang, S.V. Boriskina, H. Wang, and B.M. Reinhard

ACS Nano, 5 (8), pp 6619–6628, 2011.



Filopodia have been hypothesized to act as remote sensors of the cell environment, but many details of the sensor function remain unclear. We investigated the distribution of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) density on filopodia and on the dorsal cell membrane of A431 human epidermoid carcinoma cells using a nanoplasmonic enabled imaging tool. We targeted cell surface EGFR with 40 nm diameter Au nanoparticles (NPs) using a high affinity multivalent labeling strategy and determined relative NP binding affinities spatially resolved through plasmon coupling. Distance-dependent near-field interactions between the labels generated a NP density (ρ)-dependent spectral response that facilitated a spatial mapping of the EGFR density distribution on subcellular length scales in an optical microscope in solution. The measured ρ values were significantly higher on filopodia than on the cellular surface, which is indicative of an enrichment of EGFR on filopodia. A detailed characterization of the spatial distribution of the NP immunolabels through scanning electron microscopy (SEM) confirmed the findings of the all-optical plasmon coupling studies and provided additional structural details. The NPs exhibited a preferential association with the sides of the filopodia. We calibrated the ρ-dependent spectral response of the Au immunolabels through correlation of optical spectroscopy and SEM. The experimental dependence of the measured plasmon resonance wavelength (λres) of the interacting immunolabels on ρ was well described by the fit λres = 595.0 nm – 46.36 nm exp(−ρ/51.48) for ρ ≤ 476 NPs/μm2. The performed correlated spectroscopic/SEM studies pave the way toward quantitative immunolabeling studies of EGFR and other important cell surface receptors in an optical microscope.



Deterministic aperiodic nanostructures for photonics & plasmonics applications

L. Dal Negro and S.V. Boriskina

Laser and Photonics Reviews, published online ahead of print, 2011.

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This review focuses on the optical properties and device applications of deterministic aperiodic media generated by mathematical rules with spectral features that interpolate in a tunable fashion between periodic crystals and disordered random media. These structures are called Deterministic Aperiodic Nano Structures (DANS) and can be implemented in different materials (linear and nonlinear) and physical systems as diverse as dielectric multilayers, optical gratings, photonic waveguides and nanoparticle arrays. Among their distinctive optical properties are the formation of multi-fractal bandgaps and characteristic optical resonances, called critical modes, with unusual localization, scaling and transport properties. The goal of the paper is to provide a detailed review of the conceptual foundation and the physical mechanisms governing the complex optical response of DANS in relation to the engineering of novel devices and functionalities. The discussion will mostly focus on passive and active planar structures with enhanced light-matter coupling for photonics and plasmonics technologies.




Lasing in Thue-Morse Structures with Optimized Aperiodicity

H. Noh, J.-K. Yang , S.V. Boriskina, M.J. Rooks, G.G. Solomon, L. Dal Negro and H. Cao

Appl. Phys. Lett., vol. 98, 201109, 2011.

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We demonstrate lasing in two-dimensional Thue–Morse structures fabricated in a semiconductor membrane. By changing the relative size of two scatterers that correspond to the building blocks A and B, we gradually vary structural aperiodicity and find an optimal degree of aperiodicity where light confinement is maximal and lasing is the strongest. At various degrees of aperiodicity, different types of modes acquire the highest quality factors and may be selected for lasing. This work opens a way of controlling lasing characteristic via structural aperiodicity.




Special session on Photonic Atoms & Molecules at ICTON 2011
Stockholm, Sweden, June 26 - 30, 2011

Special Session on Photonic Atoms & Molecules will be traditionally held as a part of the International Conference on Transparent Optical Networks (ICTON’11), this year, in Stockholm, Sweden.

Previous ICTON attendees will notice the slight change in the Special Session name, which reflects its new expanded scope. Starting in 2011, I would like to invite contributions in the emerging area of plasmonics that focuses on the properties and applications of plasmonic atoms and molecules. Similar to the confined photon states in microcavities, localized surface plasmon resonances on metal nanoparticles have properties resembling those of confined electron states in atoms, giving rise to the terms ‘photonic atoms’ and ‘plasmonic atoms’, respectively. Interaction between light and matter in photonic & plasmonic atoms can be enhanced and manipulated via their mutual electromagnetic coupling when individual atoms are arranged into artificial molecules, which paves the way to a variety of exciting applications in basic science and technology.

To reflect and merge the latest trends in the photonics and plasmonics, in 2011 the Special Session will focus on latest developments in theory and design of atoms and molecules of light as well as their applications in biomedical research, communications, environmental sensing, and classical and quantum optical information processing. The program will include invited and contributed papers as well as poster presentations.



Optimizing Gold Nanoparticle Cluster Configurations (n ≤ 7) for Array Applications

Bo Yan, Svetlana V. Boriskina, and Bjoern M. Reinhard

J. Phys. Chem. C, 2011, 115 (11), pp 4578–4583


Nanoparticle cluster arrays (NCAs) are novel electromagnetic materials whose properties depend on the size and shape of the constituent nanoparticle clusters. A rational design of NCAs with defined optical properties requires a thorough understanding of the geometry-dependent optical response of the building blocks. Herein, we systematically investigate the near- and far-field responses of clusters of closely packed 60 nm gold nanoparticles (n ≤ 7) as a function of size and cluster geometry through a combination of experimental spectroscopy and generalized Mie theory calculations. From all of the investigated cluster configurations, nanoparticle trimers with D3h geometry and heptamers in D6h geometry stand out due to their polarization-insensitive responses and high electric (E) field intensity enhancements, making them building blocks of choice in this size range. The near-field intensity maximum of the D6h heptamer is red-shifted with regard to the D3h trimer by 125 nm, which confirms the possibility of a rational tuning of the near-field response in NCAs through the choice of the constituent nanoparticle clusters. For the nanoparticle trimer we investigate the influence of the cluster geometry on the optical response in detail and map near- and far-field spectra associated with the transition of the cluster configuration from D3h into Dh.





Spectroscopic Ultra-Trace Detection of Nitroaromatic Gas Vapor on Rationally Designed Two-Dimensional Nanoparticle Cluster Arrays

Jing Wang, Linglu Yang, Svetlana V. Boriskina, Bo Yan, and Bjoern M. Reinhard

Anal. Chem., 2011, 83 (6), pp 2243–2249


Nanoparticle cluster arrays (NCAs) are engineered two-dimensional plasmonic arrays that provide high signal enhancements for critical sensing applications using surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). In this work we demonstrate that rationally designed NCAs are capable of detecting ultra-traces of 2,4-dinitrotoluene (DNT) vapor. NCAs functionalized with a thin film of an aqueous NaOH solution facilitated the detection of DNT vapor at a concentration of at least 10 ppt, even in the presence of an excess of potential interferents, including Diesel fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides. Both in the presence and in the absence of this complex background the SERS signal intensity of the NO2 stretching mode showed a continuous, concentration dependent response over the entire monitored concentration range (10 ppt−100 ppb). The small size, superb sensitivity, and selectivity, as well as the fast response time of <5 min, make NCAs a valuable photonic sensor platform for ultra-trace nitroaromatic gas vapor detection with potential applications in landmine removal and homeland security.






Spectrally and Spatially Configurable Superlenses for Optoplasmonic Nanocircuits

S.V. Boriskina and B.M. Reinhard

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2011, vol. 108, no. 8, pp. 3147-3151.

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Energy transfer between photons and molecules and between neighboring molecules is ubiquitous in living nature, most prominently in photosynthesis. While energy transfer is efficiently utilized by living systems, its adoption to connect individual components in man-made plasmonic nanocircuits has been challenged by low transfer efficiencies that motivate the development of entirely new concepts for energy transfer. We introduce herein optoplasmonic superlenses that combine the capability of optical microcavities to insulate molecule-photon systems from decohering environmental effects with the superior light nanoconcentration properties of nanoantennas. The proposed structures provide significant enhancement of the emitter radiative rate and efficient long-range transfer of emitted photons followed by subsequent refocusing into nanoscale volumes accessible to near- and far-field detection. Optoplasmonic superlenses are versatile building blocks for optoplasmonic nanocircuits and can be used to construct “dark” single-molecule sensors, resonant amplifiers, nanoconcentrators, frequency multiplexers, demultiplexers, energy converters & dynamical switches.




Previous years



Photonic Molecules and Spectral Engineering

S.V. Boriskina

Microresonators Research and Applications (I. Chremmos, N. Uzunoglu, O. Schwelb eds.) Springer, 2010.

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This chapter reviews the fundamental optical properties and applications of photonic molecules (PMs) - photonic structures formed by electromagnetic coupling of two or more optical microcavities (photonic atoms). Controllable interaction between light and matter in photonic atoms can be further modified and enhanced by the manipulation of their mutual coupling. Mechanical and optical tunability of PMs not only adds new functionalities to microcavity-based optical components but also paves the way for their use as testbeds for the exploration of novel physical regimes in atomic physics and quantum optics. Theoretical studies carried on for over a decade yielded novel PM designs that make possible lowering thresholds of semiconductor microlasers, producing directional light emission, achieving optically-induced transparency, and enhancing sensitivity of microcavity-based bio-, stress- and rotation-sensors. Recent advances in material science and nano-fabrication techniques make possible the realization of optimally-tuned PMs for cavity quantum electrodynamic experiments, classical and quantum information processing, and sensing.




· I thank all the attendees of the special session on Advances in Simulation and Design of Photonic Micro- and Nano-Structures @ PIERS'08 Symposium in Cambridge , USA (2-6 July 2008) for their contribution to the session success.



·       Visit updated websites of the KNU Student Chapter of the Optical Society of America (OSA):, and of the KNU Student Chapter of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE):




·  Svetlana V. Boriskina was awarded the 2007 ICO-ICTP Prize at the recent Winter College on Fibre Optics, Fibre Lasers and Sensors this February in Trieste, Italy for "her original work in the development of numerical modeling techniques for optoelectronic devices, micro-optical resonators, dielectric lenses, and waveguides, and for her active commitment aimed at the diffusion of research in optics in Ukraine." ICTP News, Feb 2007; ICO Newsletter, April 2007.




·      Physics behind the Scenes, Optics and Photonics News, Feb. 2007 (COVER STORY).



·         Optical Microcavities in the Spotlight at ICTON'06, LEOS Newsletter, Oct. 2006.


·         Kharkov, Ukraine: Young Researchers Career Development Workshop, Focal Point, Fall 2006.


·         Design Tools for Photonics: Rising to the Challenge,” IEEE LEOS Newsletter, Feb 2004 (COVER STORY).