Vincent Ginis

Lieve Lambrechts wins the Women Award in Technology and Science

On Sunday, February 25, the Brussels science ambassador of the year was announced. Lieve Lambrechts, researcher Applied Physics at the VUB, was one of the candidates of the WATS campaign of Innoviris, encouraging young girls to choose a scientific or technological direction and career. The laureate will be available in the coming year for campaigns and events on science outreach in Brussels and will also receive a sum of 10,000 euros. The prize was awarded by Fadila Laanan, Brussels Secretary of State for Scientific Research, during the WATS closing event in the Saint-Géry halls.

Only 25% of students who graduate in a scientific or technical field of study are women. This proves that it is necessary to encourage girls to opt for a scientific career. That is why Innoviris, the Brussels Institute for Research and Innovation, conceived the WATS – Women Award campaign in Technology and Science. The purpose of this campaign? Putting inspiring female scientists in the spotlight and encouraging young girls to opt for a scientific or technological direction and career.

Congratulations Lieve!

Plenary lecture at Solvay Award Ceremony 2017

The 2017 Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize was awarded to Professor Susumu Kitagawa for his work in developing metal organic frameworks, a new class of materials with a range of potential future applications, including the capturing of polluting gases.

I delivered a speech, titled A conversation between Einstein, Magritte and Harry Potter,  at this Solvay Prize ceremony on how interdisciplinary science is on the verge of making invisibility a reality.  Very honored to have presented at the Palais des Académies in Brussels in the presence of His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium.

Imaginary gauge really enhances the optical force

Light consists of a flow of photons. If two waveguides – cables for light – are side by side, they attract or repel each other. The interaction is due to the optical force, but the effect is usually extremely small. Physicists at Chalmers University of Technology and Free University of Brussels have now found a method to significantly enhance optical force. The method opens new possibilities within sensor technology and nanoscience.

To make light behave in a completely new way, the scientists have studied waveguides made of an artificial material to trick the photons. The specially designed material makes all the photons move to one side of the waveguide. When the photons in a nearby waveguide do the same, a collection of photons suddenly gather very closely. This enhances the force between the waveguides up to 10 times.

“We have found a way to trick the photons so that they cluster together at the inner sides of the waveguides. Photons normally don’t prefer left or right, but our metamaterial creates exactly that effect,” says Philippe Tassin, Associate Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers University of Technology.

Philippe Tassin and Sophie Viaene at Chalmers and Lana Descheemaeker and Vincent Ginis at Free University of Brussels have developed a method to use the optical force in a completely new way. It can, for example, be used in sensors or to drive nanomotors. In the future, such motors might be used to sort cells or separate particles in medical technology.

“Our method opens up new opportunities for the use of waveguides in a range of technical applications. It is really exciting that man-made materials can change the basic characteristics of light propagation so dramatically,” says Vincent Ginis, assistant professor at the Department of Physics at Free University of Brussels.

The manuscript was published in Physical Review Letters and can be found here. Full Pdf.
Image caption: Enhanced optical force. When light flows into the waveguide made of metamaterial, the photons (yellow) are tricked to move to one side. Here the action is visualised by the rotors (green). When all photons are assembled on the same side, the optical force (blue) between the waveguides is strongly enhanced. The curves (red) show how the light has moved from the middle to the side of the waveguides.