Prof S. Couris Group Research Activities

Nonlinear Optics and Materials

The increasing demand for faster processing, storage and distribution of information can only be achieved by miniaturisation of the basic electronic devices down to the atomic/molecular level. Opto-electronic/photonic technologies, where light is used as information carrier instead of electrons, is expected to offer the answer. Towards this goal, the development of new photonic materials possessing optical linear and nonlinear response suitable for such tasks are of high interest.

Our research efforts are oriented towards:

  •     the understanding of the physical origins of the NLO response
  •     the systematic study of the relationship between molecular structure and NLO response
  •    the tailoring the NLO properties in order to match specific needs (e.g. 2- or 3-photon absorption, nonlinear refraction, χ(3), n2, 2ndhyperpolarizability, etc.)


  • Graphene and derivatives: structure/functionalization and NLO response.
  • Charge transfer/π-π interactions and NLO response: fullerenes,their derivatives and functionalized fullerenes with porphyrins,ferrocenes, etc. Fullerene dendrimers, Endohedral fullerenes.
  • Metal dithiolenes.
  • Molecular nano-machines & molecular shuttles: rotaxanes.
  • Azo-benzene molecular systems, cis-trans isomerization and NLO response.
  • Chiral molecular systems and NLO response.
  • Self-organisation and NLO response.
  • Metallic and semiconductor nanoparticles-plasmons-excitons: size & shape-ordering/dis-ordering-treatment-functionalization-effect of local environment on the NLO response.

Laser Produced Plasmas

Plasmas created from the interaction of powerful laser radiation with matter can provide, under some conditions, rapid, remote and in-situ qualitative and quantitative elemental analysis of a sample. In principle, all states of matter can be analysed: solids, gases and liquids, conductive and/or dielectric.

Our resent research work is oriented into three different directions:

  •                   combustion diagnostics,
  •                   high temperature metallurgical processes’ diagnostics
  •                   environmental issues.

Advantages of LIBS as analytical technique

  •    All states of matter can be analysed: solids, liquids and gases, conducting and non-conducting
  •     Sample preparation is not necessary
  •     Vaporization and excitation occur in a single step
  •     Small amount of sample is required (e.g. >μgr)
  •     Ability of performing on-line, in-situ and real-time in hostile and dangerous environments
  •     Stand-off analysis (only optical access is required)

Applications of LIBS include:

  •    Industrial applications: on-line and in-situ elemental analysis of molten slags in industrial sites
  •    Environmental Monitoring: heavy metals’ detection (e.g. Pb, Cu, Zn, Cr, Mn) in sewage sludge samples from Psytalia
  •     Combustion diagnostics: elemental analysis of hydrocarbon–air flames, mapping of the flame propagation front, determination of the equivalence ratio
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