Niek van Hulst

Niek van Hulst

Institut de Ciències Fotòniques

Engineering Sciences

Following study in Astronomy and Physics, I obtained my PhD (1986) in Molecular & Laser-Physics at University of Nijmegen (NL), 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, Univ. Twente (NL) 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; I was Head Academic Programs, now chair at ICFO NanoFabrication Laboratory. Recipient of 2003 Körber European Science Award, 2010 City of Barcelona Prize; 2017 European Physical Society Prize; ERC Advanced Grants in 2010, 2015 and 2021.

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, rambling between Mediterranean waters and Catalan winefields.

Selected publications

- Lo Gerfo M G, Bolzonello L, Bernal-Texca F, Martorell J & van Hulst NF 2023, 'Spatiotemporal Mapping Uncouples Exciton Diffusion from Singlet-Singlet Annihilation in the Electron Acceptor Y6', J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 14 (7), 1999 - 2005. Journal Cover.

- Ortiz-Orruño U, Quidant R, van Hulst NF, Liebel M & Ortega Arroyo J, 2023, 'Simultaneous sizing and refractive index analysis of heterogeneous nanoparticle suspensions', ACS Nano 17 (1), 221–229.

- Hörmann M, Visentin F, Zanetta A, et al. 2023, 'High-Sensitivity Visualization of Ultrafast Carrier Diffusion by Wide-Field Holographic Microscopy', Ultrafast Sci. 3, 0032.
- Block A, Yu R, Un L-W, Varghese S, Liebel M, van Hulst NF, Fan S, Tielrooij K-J, Sivan Y, 2023, 'Observation of negative effective thermal diffusion in gold films', ACS Photonics 10 (4), 1150-1158.
- Varghese S, Mehew JD, Block A, Saleta Reig D, Wozniak P, Farris R, Zanolli Z, Ordejón P, Verstraete MJ, van Hulst NF, Tielrooij K-J, 2023, 'A pre-time-zero spatiotemporal microscopy technique for the ultrasensitive determination of the thermal diffusivity of thin films', Rev. Sci. Instrum. 94, 034903.
- Bolzonello L, Bruschi M, Fresch B & van Hulst NF 2023, 'Nonlinear Optical Spectroscopy of Molecular Assemblies: What Is Gained and Lost in Action Detection?', J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 14 (50), 11438 - 11446.
- Sağlamkaya E, Musiienko A, Shadabroo MS, Sun B, Chandrabose S, Shargaieva O, Lo Gerfo Morganti G, van Hulst NF, Shoaee S, 2023, "What’s special about Y6; the working mechanism of neat Y6 organic solar cell', Mater. Horiz. 10, 1825–1834