The Photonic Forces group studies light-matter interactions at the nanoscale, in particular the coupling between photons and phonons in nano-optomechanical systems. We seek to understand how the behavior of light and sound in nanoscale devices is governed by fundamental principles such as spatiotemporal symmetries and quantum mechanics. We explore how suitable system design and control over light-matter interactions can engage the conventional limits to nanophotonic and nanomechanical functionality, in application domains from sensing and metrology to communication.

Quantum metrology

Quantum mechanics famously sets bounds to the sensitivity of measurements, but at the same time offers new ways to evade those limits and gain advantages in novel sensor technology. Through exploiting strong interactions in nanophotonic optomechanical systems we probe the boundaries of quantum measurement and investigate massive mechanical systems in the quantum regime. Collaborations: Michael Vanner (Imperial College), Andrea Fiore (TU/e)

Topological photons and phonons

We explore the links between broken symmetries and exotic transport properties, such as topologically protected one-way edge modes, in photonic and phononic lattices. Collaborations: Kobus Kuipers (TU Delft), Alejandro Martinez (UPV), André Xuereb (University of Malta)

  • L. Mercadé, K. Pelka, R. Burgwal, A. Xuereb, A. Martinez, and E. Verhagen, Floquet phonon lasing in multimode optomechanical systems, arXiv:2101.10788
  • S. Arora, T. Bauer, R. Barczyk, E. Verhagen, and L. Kuipers, Direct quantification of topological protection in symmetry-protected photonic edge states at telecom wavelengths, Light: Sci. & Appl. 10, 9 (2021)
  • N. Parappurath, F. Alpeggiani, L. Kuipers, and E. Verhagen, Direct observation of topological edge states in silicon photonic crystals: spin, dispersion, and chiral routing, Sci. Adv. 6, eaaw4137 (2020)
  • J. P. Mathew, J. del Pino, and E. Verhagen, Synthetic gauge fields for phonon transport in a nano-optomechanical system, Nat. Nanotechnol. 15, 198 (2020)

Nanophotonics for sensing and communication

Photonic devices can perform a great variety of functions, including sensing, imaging, emission, routing, amplification, and polarization manipulation. We try to understand this functionality in terms of the system’s resonant eigenmodes and their coupling to the outside world. We study how concepts such as  energy conservation, reciprocity, and dissipation put fundamental bounds on functionality. And we use system design, nanophotonic field enhancement, and controlled interactions to push the limits of performance in terms of information capacity and energy efficiency. Collaborations: Andrea Alù (CUNY), Femius Koenderink (AMOLF), Giampiero Gerini (TNO/TU/e)

Earlier work


plasmomechanicsThe strength of radiation pressure forces scales inversely with the scale to which photons are confined. Ultimately strong optomechanical interactions are therefore enabled in plasmonic resonators, which allow squeezing light waves in deeply subwavelength dimensions. We investigate the use of such systems for broadband, practical nano-optomechanical sensors, reconfigurable photonic devices, and electro-optic conversion. Collaborations: Albert Polman and Tobias Kippenberg (EPFL)

Optical interactions in nanophotonic systems

phc_web2We try to understand nanophotonic functionality  such as emission enhancement, sensing, imaging, and polarization manipulation can be understood in terms of the system’s resonant eigenmodes. We study how concepts such as  energy conservation, reciprocity, and dissipation put fundamental bounds on functionality. In this context, we study hybrid plasmonic-photonic resonators and strongly chiral structures. Collaborations: Femius Koenderink, Kobus Kuipers (TU Delft)

Optical cooling and control of mechanical resonators in the quantum regime

quantumcoherentcouplingLaboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurement, EPFL

Negative-index metamaterials based on plasmonic waveguides

negativeindexAMOLF (

Subwavelength nanofocusing of light with surface plasmons

nanofocusingAMOLF (

Enhancing absorption and emission with plasmonic resonators

coaxfluorescenceAMOLF (