Dr Simone De Liberato


Simone De Liberato

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Job title: Associate Professor
Division: Physics & Astronomy
Organisation: University of Southampton
Tags: Fellowship: Early Career Fellowship, Fellowship: Previous Fellow, University of Southampton
Related theme: ICT Physical Sciences Quantum technologies


I am a theoretical physicist and an entrepreneur. I did my undergraduate studies at École Normale Supérieure in Paris and my PhD at Université Paris Diderot. After my PhD I did two postdoctorates in Tokyo and in Paris, and I opened a few start-ups, before getting a position in Southampton.

My Fellowship

A bilayer of graphene is a two-atom-thick sheet of carbon. One of the main interests of this material is that is has tuneable optical properties: just applying a voltage between the two layers, we can make it transparent or opaque, at least for light of at specific frequencies.

I wish to investigate the physics of a bilayer of graphene enclosed between two facing mirrors. In this configuration, light will bounce back and forth between the mirrors, being effectively trapped between them. At each passage, if the external voltage is such that the graphene is opaque to the trapped light, the thin carbon bilayer will absorb some of the radiation, just to re-emit it after a very short time.

Due to these absorption and re-emission cycles, the luminous energy trapped between the mirrors spends some time inside the graphene and thus it acquires some of its properties.

In particular, while light rays do not usually interact between them (the light rays emitted by two lamps pass one through the other, they do not bounce like Star Wars light-sabres), they can interact while inside the carbon bilayer. This interaction between the trapped light rays is of the utmost importance, because it allows us to manipulate them, and to realise otherwise impossible optical devices

Career benefit of Fellowship

This EPSRC fellowship will finance a postdoctorate for three years. This extra manpower will allow me to expand my research in novel directions, as I will have time to explore novel ideas while still producing solid publications on well-established themes.