I am a postdoctoral scholar in the group of Prof. Jennifer Dionne in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Broadly, my research focuses on harnessing nanophotonics, the study and manipulation of light on the nanoscale, to bridge engineering and biomedicine.

My postdoctoral research develops nanostructured surfaces, known as “metasurfaces,” that enhance the scattering of light from a patient’s biopsied tissue or cell sample in order to quickly and accurately inform both the stage of a patient’s disease and the appropriate treatment. This all-optical, label-free technology has the potential to enable real-time tissue diagnostics of important diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease in the operating room or at the point-of-care.

My doctoral research studied chiral light-matter interactions on the nanoscale. Chirality, the phenomenon of handedness, describes structures which are non-superimposable upon their mirror image. In particular, I theoretically and experimentally investigated the underlying physical mechanism by which chiral light interacts with optical antennas, thus opening the door to rationally designed chiral light on the nanoscale. This line of research, which I continue to investigate in collaborative projects during my postdoctoral training, has applications in the development of pharmaceuticals free of side-effects and the transition to agrochemicals with improved environmental sustainability.

Honors & Awards

  • Early Postdoc Mobility Fellowship, Swiss National Science Foundation (11/2018)
  • Best Talk Award, Materials Research Society Fall Meeting, Boston (MA), USA. (11/2017)
  • 20 Years of Nano-Optics Travel Grant, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Erlangen (BY), Germany. (09/2017)
  • Schweizerische Studienstiftung Scholarship, Swiss Foundation supporting excellence in higher education. (09/2008 - 11/2018)
  • Chair, Gordon Research Seminar in Plasmonics and Nanophotonics, Gordon Research Seminars (07/2016 - 07/2018)
  • Selected Talk from Best Poster Abstracts, Gordon Research Conference, Plasmonics and Nanophotonics (07/2018)
  • Poster Award, Materials and Processes Symposium, Zurich, Switzerland. (06/2016)
  • Nature Publishing Group Best Poster Award, International Conference on Quantum Dots, Pisa (PI), Italy. (05/2014)
  • National Competition Schweizer Jugend Forscht (Swiss Youth in Science), Highest grade “excellent” and Special Culture Award University of Basel (04/2008)
  • 1st Place: Swiss Young Physicist’s Tournament, International Young Physicist's Tournament (04/2006)
  • Aurel Stodola Fonds Travel Grant, Awarded by ETH Zurich to conduct Master's Thesis at MIT. (01/2013-07/2013)
  • Femtec.Network Scholarship, Femtec Careerbuilding Center for Women in Science and Technology. (01/2011-09/2013)

Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Arts and Science, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule (ETH Zurich) (2011)
  • Master of Science, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule (ETH Zurich) (2014)
  • Doctor of Science, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule (ETH Zurich) (2018)

All Publications

  • Optical Helicity and Optical Chirality in Free Space and in the Presence of Matter Symmetry 2019, 11(9) Poulikakos, L. V., Dionne, J. A., Garcia-Etxarri, A. 2019; 11 (9)

    View details for DOI 10.3390/sym11091113

  • Carbon Nanotube Chirality Determines Properties of Encapsulated Linear Carbon Chain NANO LETTERS Heeg, S., Shi, L., Poulikakos, L. V., Pichler, T., Novotny, L. 2018; 18 (9): 5426–31


    Long linear carbon chains (LLCCs) encapsulated inside double-walled carbon nanotubes (DWCNTs) are regarded as a promising realization of carbyne, the truly one-dimensional allotrope of carbon. While the electronic and vibronic properties of the encapsulated LLCC are expected to be influenced by its nanotube host, this dependence has not been investigated experimentally so far. Here we bridge this gap by studying individual LLCCs encapsulated in DWCNTs with tip-enhanced Raman scattering (TERS). We reveal that the nanotube host, characterized by its chirality, determines the vibronic and electronic properties of the encapsulated LLCC. By choice of chirality, the fundamental Raman mode (C-mode) of the chain is tunable by ∼95 cm-1 and its band gap by ∼0.6 eV, suggesting this one-dimensional hybrid system to be a promising building block for nanoscale optoelectronics. No length dependence of the chain's C-mode frequency is evident, making LLCCs a close to perfect representation of carbyne.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b01681

    View details for Web of Science ID 000444793500012

    View details for PubMedID 30088943

  • Chiral Light Design and Detection Inspired by Optical Antenna Theory NANO LETTERS Poulikakos, L. V., Thureja, P., Stollmann, A., De Leo, E., Norris, D. J. 2018; 18 (8): 4633–40


    Chiral metallic nanostructures can generate evanescent fields which are more highly twisted than circularly polarized light. However, it remains unclear how best to exploit this phenomenon, hindering the optimal utilization of chiral electromagnetic fields. Here, inspired by optical antenna theory, we address this challenge by introducing chiral antenna parameters: the chirality flux efficiency and the chiral antenna aperture. These quantities, which are based on chirality conservation, quantify the generation and dissipation of chiral light. We then present a label-free experimental technique, chirality flux spectroscopy, which measures the chirality flux efficiency, providing valuable information on chiral near fields in the far field. This principle is verified theoretically and experimentally with two-dimensionally chiral coupled nanorod antennas, for which we show that chiral near and far fields are linearly dependent on the magnetoelectric polarizability. This elementary system confirms our concept to quantify chiral electromagnetic fields and paves the way toward broadly tunable chiral optical applications including ultrasensitive detection of molecular chirality or optical information storage and transfer.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b00083

    View details for Web of Science ID 000441478300001

    View details for PubMedID 29533637

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6089498

  • Three-Dimensional Enantiomeric Recognition of Optically Trapped Single Chiral Nanoparticles PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS Schnoering, G., Poulikakos, L. V., Rosales-Cabara, Y., Canaguier-Durand, A., Norris, D. J., Genet, C. 2018; 121 (2): 023902


    We optically trap freestanding single metallic chiral nanoparticles using a standing-wave optical tweezer. We also incorporate within the trap a polarimetric setup that allows us to perform in situ chiral recognition of single enantiomers. This is done by measuring the S_{3} component of the Stokes vector of a light beam scattered off the trapped nanoparticle in the forward direction. This unique combination of optical trapping and chiral recognition, all implemented within a single setup, opens new perspectives towards the control, recognition, and manipulation of chiral objects at nanometer scales.

    View details for DOI 10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.023902

    View details for Web of Science ID 000438041900005

    View details for PubMedID 30085717

  • Polarization Multiplexing of Fluorescent Emission Using Multiresonant Plasmonic Antennas ACS NANO De Leo, E., Cocina, A., Tiwari, P., Poulikakos, L. V., Marques-Gallego, P., le Feber, B., Norris, D. J., Prins, F. 2017; 11 (12): 12167–73


    Combining the ability to localize electromagnetic fields at the nanoscale with a directional response, plasmonic antennas offer an effective strategy to shape the far-field pattern of coupled emitters. Here, we introduce a family of directional multiresonant antennas that allows for polarization-resolved spectral identification of fluorescent emission. The geometry consists of a central aperture surrounded by concentric polygonal corrugations. By varying the periodicity of each axis of the polygon individually, this structure can support multiple resonances that provide independent control over emission directionality for multiple wavelengths. Moreover, since each resonant wavelength is directly mapped to a specific polarization orientation, spectral information can be encoded in the polarization state of the out-scattered beam. To demonstrate the potential of such structures in enabling simplified detection schemes and additional functionalities in sensing and imaging applications, we use the central subwavelength aperture as a built-in nanocuvette and manipulate the fluorescent response of colloidal-quantum-dot emitters coupled to the multiresonant antenna.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acsnano.7b05269

    View details for Web of Science ID 000418990200042

    View details for PubMedID 29161502

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5772889

  • Optical Chirality Flux as a Useful Far-Field Probe of Chiral Near Fields ACS PHOTONICS Poulikakos, L. V., Gutsche, P., McPeak, K. M., Burger, S., Niegemann, J., Hafner, C., Norris, D. J. 2016; 3 (9): 1619–25
  • Time-Harmonic Optical Chirality in Inhomogeneous Space Gutsche, P., Poulikakos, L. V., Hammerschmidt, M., Burger, S., Schmidt, F., Adibi, A., Lin, S. Y., Scherer, A. SPIE-INT SOC OPTICAL ENGINEERING. 2016

    View details for DOI 10.1117/12.2209551

    View details for Web of Science ID 000381696400006

  • Ultraviolet Plasmonic Chirality from Colloidal Aluminum Nanoparticles Exhibiting Charge-Selective Protein Detection ADVANCED MATERIALS McPeak, K. M., van Engers, C. D., Bianchi, S., Rossinelli, A., Poulikakos, L. V., Bernard, L., Herrmann, S., Kim, D. K., Burger, S., Blome, M., Jayanti, S. V., Norris, D. J. 2015; 27 (40): 6244–50


    Chiral aluminum nanoparticles, dispersed in water, are prepared, which provide strong ultraviolet plasmonic circular dichroism, high-energy superchiral near-fields, and charge-selective protein detection.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/adma.201503493

    View details for Web of Science ID 000363476200026

    View details for PubMedID 26384604

  • Subdiffusive Exciton Transport in Quantum Dot Solids NANO LETTERS Akselrod, G. M., Prins, F., Poulikakos, L. V., Lee, E. Y., Weidman, M. C., Mork, A., Willard, A. P., Bulovic, V., Tisdale, W. A. 2014; 14 (6): 3556–62


    Colloidal quantum dots (QDs) are promising materials for use in solar cells, light-emitting diodes, lasers, and photodetectors, but the mechanism and length of exciton transport in QD materials is not well understood. We use time-resolved optical microscopy to spatially visualize exciton transport in CdSe/ZnCdS core/shell QD assemblies. We find that the exciton diffusion length, which exceeds 30 nm in some cases, can be tuned by adjusting the inorganic shell thickness and organic ligand length, offering a powerful strategy for controlling exciton movement. Moreover, we show experimentally and through kinetic Monte Carlo simulations that exciton diffusion in QD solids does not occur by a random-walk process; instead, energetic disorder within the inhomogeneously broadened ensemble causes the exciton diffusivity to decrease over time. These findings reveal new insights into exciton dynamics in disordered systems and demonstrate the flexibility of QD materials for photonic and optoelectronic applications.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/nl501190s

    View details for Web of Science ID 000337337100090

    View details for PubMedID 24807586

  • Transition from Thermodynamic to Kinetic-Limited Excitonic Energy Migration in Colloidal Quantum Dot Solids JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C Poulikakos, L. V., Prins, F., Tisdale, W. A. 2014; 118 (15): 7894–7900

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jp502961v

    View details for Web of Science ID 000334730300017

  • Synthesis of calcium-based, Al2O3-stabilized sorbents for CO2 capture using a co-precipitation technique INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF GREENHOUSE GAS CONTROL Kierzkowska, A. M., Poulikakos, L. V., Broda, M., Mueller, C. R. 2013; 15: 48–54