Skip to main content
Niek F. van Hulst

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 transport and coupling in single light-harvesting antenna complexes at native conditions, to unravel the efficiency and robustness 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 reflect & 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

– Block A, Principi A, Hesp NCH, Cummings AW, Liebel M, Watanabe K, Taniguchi T, Roche S, Koppens FHL, van Hulst NF & Tielrooij K 2021, “Observation of giant and tunable thermal diffusivity of a Dirac fluid at room temperature“, Nature NanoTechnology 16, 1195-1200

– Ortiz-Orruño U, Jo A, Lee H, van Hulst NF & Liebel M 2021, “Precise nanosizing with high dynamic range holography”, Nano Lett. 21 (1), 317−322

– Liebel M, Camargo FVA, Cerullo G & van Hulst NF 2021, “Ultrafast Holographic Transient Microscopy“,  Nano Lett. 21 (4), 1666-1671

– Saemisch L, van Hulst NF & Liebel M 2021, “One-Shot Phase Image Distinction of Plasmonic and Dielectric Nanoparticles“, Nano Lett. 21 (9), 4021−4028

– Bolzonello L, Bernal-Texca F, Gerling LG, Ockova J, Collini E, Martorell J & van Hulst NF 2021, “Photocurrent-Detected 2D Electronic Spectroscopy Reveals Ultrafast Hole Transfer in Operating PM6/Y6 Organic Solar Cells“, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 12 (16), 3983-3988.

– López-Ortiz M, Zamora RA, Antinori ME, Remesh V, Hu C, Croce RF, van Hulst NF & Gorostiza P 2021, “Fast photo-chrono-amperometry of photosynthetic complexes for biosensors and electron transport studies“, ACS Sensors 6 (2), 581–587

– Pogna EAA, et al. 2021, “Hot-Carrier Cooling in High-Quality Graphene is Intrinsically Limited by Optical Phonons“, ACSNano 15 (7), 11285–11295

– Herkert E, et al. 2021, “Roadmap on bio-nano-photonics“, J. Opt. 23 (7) 073001

– Accanto N, de Roque PM, Galvan-Sosa M, Hancu IM & van Hulst NF 2021, “Selective excitation of individual nanoantennas by pure spectral phase control”, NanoPhotonics 10 (1), 597–606

Selected research activities

Conference organisation: Symposium EG at CLEO-Europe’21 Munich, Symposium TOM-5, at EOSAM, Rome 2021, Int. Conf. on Near Field Optics, NFO-17 Victoria 2022, Int. workshop “NanoLight” Benasque 2022.

Member of various international institution and grant evaluation panels.

Chair ICFO NanoFabrication Laboratory.

ICREA Memoir 2021