Optics has revolutionized fields as various as data storage and long-distance communication. Optical systems are likely to become ubiquitous in other areas, like today’s smart devices, but this step requires further miniaturization. The example of electronics shows us that miniaturization will sooner or later hit physical limitations. In the case of optics this will be in the nanodomain. Working with optics on this scale requires new concepts to be developed and many questions to be answered:
How can we shrink the dimensions of optical structures to, or even below, the wavelength? To what extend can we nanostructure waveguides, beam splitters, antennas and resonators to make the optical equivalent of electronic integrated circuits ? How can we miniaturize lasers and increase their yield? How can one make high-sensitivity optical detectors, e.g. for medical applications, and integrate them in low-cost labs on a chip? Can we use nanophotonics to study complex (molecular) systems and can we tailor light to efficiently steer their behavior? Can we improve existing imaging systems or construct entirely new ones by cleverly taking the scattering of light on nanometer sized scatterers into account? And on the more fundamental side: Can single emitters be controlled efficiently and embedded into nanophotonic structures? How can we exploit the quantum character of light for new functionality?