The Institute of Photonic Sciences - ICFO

ICFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences ( was created in 2002 by the regional government of Catalonia and the Technical University of Catalonia. The Institute was launched with the mission to become a world-leading research center in Photonics. ICFO currently hosts more than 250 researchers organized in 23 research groups working in 60 state-of-the-art research laboratories, equipped with the latest experimental facilities and supported by a range of cutting-edge facilities for nanofabrication, characterization, imaging and engineering. The Institute is located in a specially designed, 14.000 m2-building situated in the Mediterranean Technology Park in the metropolitan area of Barcelona.  ICFO currently hosts 12 ICREA Research professors, 14 European Research Council projects and 6 Fundacio Cellex Barcelona Nest Fellows. ICFO researchers have already published some 1000 papers in the top topical journals and more than 30 papers by ICFO researchers have been published in journals of the Nature & Science groups during the last few years. The institute was given a top worldwide position in the Physics category in the "Mapping Scientific Excellence" ranking. On the industrial side, ICFO participates actively in the European Technological Platform Photonics21 and is also very proactive in fostering entrepreneurial activities and spin-off creation. The center participates in incubator activities and seeks to attract venture capital investment. ICFO hosts an active Corporate Liaison Program that aims at creating collaborations and links between industry and ICFO researchers. To date, ICFO has helped create 5 start-up companies.

  • Role in the Project

ICFO will be in charge of the project coordination and dissemination. Group leaders Darrick Chang, Javier Garcia de Abajo, and Frank Koppens are leading ICFO’s research efforts within GRASP. Frank Koppens is leading WP2 “Nonlinear graphene plasmonics: toward the quantum limit,” while Darrick Chang is leading WP3 “Quantum theory of strongly interacting plasmons” and serves as Scientific Coordinator of GRASP.

P.I. - Prof. Dr. Darrick Chang (Group leader)

Research Areas: Nanophotonics, Quantum Optics
Research Group: Theoretical quantum nano-photonics

Professor Darrick Chang joined ICFO in 2011 following a postdoctoral fellowship from the California Institute of Technology. He completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University in 2001, received his Ph.D. in Physics in 2008 from Harvard University. His scientific work has been published in over 30 papers in major peer-reviewed journals, including 7 published papers in the Nature family of journals, and cited 3000 times in total.

The “Theoretical quantum nano-photonics” group research focuses on developing novel techniques to manipulate quantum interactions between light and matter, and advancing theoretical tools to understand these phenomena. This work lies at the interface of diverse fields including quantum optics, nano-photonics, nano-mechanics, condensed matter physics, and quantum information science. The group applies their theoretical techniques toward new quantum devices such as nanoscale sensors, single-photon transistors, and atomic nano-traps, and maintains close collaborations with a number of leading experimental groups worldwide.   

  • Role in the Project

Professor Darrick Chang is leading the “Theoretical quantum-nano photonics group” at ICFO. He serves as the Scientific Coordinator of GRASP and leads WP3 “Quantum theory of strongly interacting plasmons”. In addition, his group will be participating in WP4 “Integration with photonic technologies”.

P.I. - Prof. Dr. Javier Garcia de Abajo (Group Leader)

Research Area: Nanophotonics
Reasearch Group: Nanophotonics theory
The “Nanophotonics theory” group is focused on the study of the optical response of nanostructured materials. We develop theory to explain and unveil new physical phenomena associated with the interaction of light with such materials. In particular, we investigate plasmons in nanoparticles and nanostructures, as well as the interaction of these plasmons with molecules. We provide theory to interpret and extend electron-microscope-based spectroscopy. We are also interested in exploring exotic quantum and classical phenomena involving the optical response of nanostructures, such as quantum vacuum friction, collective optical modes in graphene, and molecular plasmons.

Our main Research Topics are Electron microscope spectroscopies, Graphene plasmonics, Nanoplasmonics, and Quantum nanophotonics. We have expertise in many-body and condensed-matter theory, optical response at the nanoscale both from first-principles and based upon classical electromagnetism, interaction of fast-electrons/ions with nanostructures. We develop powerful computational tools for solving Maxwell's equations (boundary-element method, multiple scattering, etc.), Schrödinger's equation, and linear-response problems (e.g., RPA expansions for many different physical systems).

  • Role in the Project

Professor Javier Garcia de Abajo, “Nanophotonics theory” group leader at ICFO, will be actively participating in WP3 to develop first-principles simulations of graphene nano-structures, and to understand the role of optical dissipation mechanisms including plasmon-phonon coupling, and defects and edges.

P.I. - Prof. Dr. Frank Koppens (Group Leader)

Research Area: Nanophotonics, Quantum Optics
Research Group: Nano-optoelectronics
Group homepage:

The "Quantum Nano-optoelectronics" group focuses on the realization of a variety of novel active and hybrid nano-photonic and plasmonic devices based on graphene and related 2d materials. The aim is to reveal new physical quantum phenomena related to strong interactions between light and matter, mediated by 2d materials, and to study and develop new concepts for sensing, photodetection and nano-scale light processing and switching.

The goal of future projects is to study the interaction between light and graphene and 2d materials, and understand the conversion between excited electrons and electrical signals at ultra-fast timescales, nano-scale lengthscales and at the level of single photons, plasmons and phonons. In addition, the group aims to bridge nano-photonics with other promising domains –opto-electronics, nano-mechanics and non-linear optics – in order to exploit the full potential of the unique properties of graphene and 2d materials, creating the foundation for the new field of graphene quantum nano-optoelectronics.

In parallel, we aim to build strategic relationships with medium or large industries in order to build prototypes of disruptive technologies, developed and discovered at ICFO. One example is the hybrid graphene-QD photodetector for which prototypes as being developed with the aim to perform pixelated imaging with high resolution and for mid-infrared frequencies.

  • Role in the Project

Professor Frank Koppens is leading the “Quantum Nano-optoelectronics” group at ICFO and will be leading WP2 “Nonlinear graphene plasmonics: toward the quantum limit”. His group will be also contributing in WP1 “Observation and optimization of giant nonlinearities in graphene nano-structures”.


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