Niek F. van Hulst

Institut de Ciències Fotòniques

Engineering Sciences

Following study in Astronomy and Physics, I obtained my PhD (1986) in Molecular & Laser-Physics at the University of Nijmegen (the Netherlands), on microwave-laser double resonance molecular-beam spectroscopy. After research in non-linear optics of organic materials, integrated optics, atomic force and near-field optical microscopy, since 1997 full Professor at MESA+ Institute for NanoTechnology, University of Twente (the Netherlands) with focus on single molecule detection and scanning probe technology. In 2005, attracted by the Catalan quality-based science policy, I started as ICREA Research Professor and senior group leader at ICFO - the Institute of Photonic Sciences, within The Barcelona Institute of Science & Technology; also I am Head Academic Programs and NanoFabrication Lab at ICFO. Recipient of 2003 Körber European Science Award, 2010 City of Barcelona Prize; ERC Advanced Grants in 2010 and 2015, PoC in 2017; 2017 European Physical Society Prize.

Research interests

My current interest is to control light interaction at the nanometer scale. To this end, my group specializes on optical antennas, with nanoscale hot spots, and on coherent control schemes to command light on the “femto-nano” scale. We study individual molecules, quantum dots and single proteins, in strong interaction with nanoantenna-cavities and sub-10-fs pulses; controlling excitation-emission rates, direction, spectra, polarization, single photon character. We focus particularly on long-lived coherences in single light-harvesting antenna complexes at native conditions, to unravel the remarkably high efficiency of energy conversion in such natural molecular antennas. At ICFO I aim to stimulate young researchers, towards well-rooted skilled scientists and assertive critical thinkers, ready to shape their future and sustain the world. To recharge, I like to touch ground in the Massis del Garraf or to stroll around the coast, inspired by the ancient Mediterranean waters.

Selected publications

– Singh A, de Roque PM, Calbris G, Hugall JT & van Hulst NF 2018, ‘Nanoscale mapping & control of antenna-coupling strength for bright single photon sources‘, NanoLett 18, 2538–2544.

– Hugall JT, Singh A & van Hulst NF 2018, ‘Plasmonic Cavity Coupling‘, ACSPhot 5, 43-53.

– Sanz-Paz M, Ernandes C, Esparza JU, Burr GW, van Hulst NF et al. 2018, ‘Enhancing Magnetic Light Emission with All-Dielectric Optical Nanoantennas‘, NanoLett. 18, 3481–3487.

– Caycedo-Soler F, Lim J, Oviedo-Casado S, van Hulst NF, Huelga SF & Plenio MB 2018, ‘On the Theory of Excitonic Delocalization for Robust Vibronic Dynamics in LH2‘, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 9, 3446–3453.

– Remesh V, Stührenberg M, Saemisch L, Accanto N & van Hulst NF 2018, ‘Phase Control of Plasmon Enhanced TPPL in Resonant Gold Nanoantennas‘, Appl Phys Lett 113, 211101.

– Stockman MI et al. 2018, ‘Roadmap on Plasmonics‘, J Opt 20, 043001.

– Liebel M, Toninelli C & van Hulst NF 2018, ‘Room-temperature ultrafast nonlinear spectroscopy of a single molecule‘, Nature Phot 12, 45-49.

Selected research activities

Selected invited talks

– MRS – Materials Research Society, Boston, USA
– Colloquium, Univ. Birmingham, UK
– GRC Single-Molecule Approaches to Biology, Mount Snow, VT, USA
– ECONOS2018, Milano, Italy
– NFO15 – Near Field Optics and Related Techniques, Troyes, France
– XXV Int. School Nicolás Cabrera, Miraflores de la Sierra, Madrid
– Enrico Fermi Int. School of Physics, “Nanoscale Quantum Optics”, Varenna, Italy
– Plasmonica2018, Cetraro, Italy
– NanoLight2018, Benasque, Aragon
– Quenthrel, ERC-workshop, Padova, Italy
– X-CIE: Iberian Conf Spectroscopy, Lisbon, Portugal
– J2IFAM2018, Conf of Young Scientists in Atomic & Molecular Physics, Barcelona
– La Nit dels Investigadors, CCCB Barcelona


– CLEO/Europe 2019, München, Germany: Chair EQEC Symposium EG
– EOSAM2018, Delft, Netherlands, program committee TOM 5
– NanoLight 2018, Benasque, Spain, organizer with L.Martin-Moreno
– TU/Eindhoven, Netherlands, International Science Review Panel
– ICFO: Head Academic Programs, Head NanoFabrication Lab.