Nicholas Rivera

Summary of Research

The broad theme of my research in the Soljacic group is "unconventional" light-matter interactions. In other words: realizing ways for matter to emit light in ways which is conventionally considered too slow to be accessible (i.e., forbidden). Recent advances in nanophotonics point to ways to overcome all of the fundamental limitations of light-matter interactions, even in atomically small systems. Intuitively, this happens by confining light on the scale of atomic orbitals. This allows for realization of a very broad set of emission processes.

My work centers on developing systematically a quantum theory of these unconventional light matter interactions and exploring the consequences of realizing these interactions for photonics, atomic physics, chemical physics, and the countless other fields which use light-matter interactions on a regular basis.


(* denotes equal contribution)

In preparation:

3. Low-energy recoil and spin physics with "nano-photons". Rivera N., Wong L. J., Joannopoulos J.D., Soljacic M., and Kaminer I. In preparation to be submitted to Phys. Rev. Lett.

2. Creating gamma rays from free electrons traversing a nanophotonic vacuum. Rivera N., Wong L. J., Joannopoulos J.D., Soljacic M., and Kaminer I. In preparation to be submitted to Science.

1. High-harmonic generation of sub-diffractional waves by optically dressed electrons. Rivera N., Wong L.J., Soljacic M., and Kaminer I. In preparation for submission to Phys. Rev. Lett.

In review

2. Controlling UV emission through graphene plasmons. Sloan J., Rivera N., Soljacic M., and Kaminer I. In revision at Nano Letters.

1. Shaping polaritons to reshape selection rules. Machado, F.*, Rivera, N.*, Buljan, H., Soljacic, M., and Ido Kaminer. (2016). arXiv:1610.01668. In review at Phys. Rev. B.


7. Making two-photon emission dominate one-photon emission using extremely confined phonon polaritons in the mid-IR. Rivera N., Rosolen G., Kaminer I., Joannopoulos J.D., and Soljacic M. In press at Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. (2017).

6. Ultra light A-Scale Optimal Optical Reflectors. Papadakis G.T., Narang, P., Sundararaman R., Rivera N., Buljan H., Engheta N., and Soljacic M. ACS Photonics 10.1021/acsphotonics.7b00609. (2017).

5. Constructing "designer" atoms via resonant graphene-induced Lamb shifts. Chang C.H., Rivera N., Joannopoulos J.D., Soljacic M., and Kaminer I. ACS Photonics special issue on 2D Nanophotonics. 10.1021/acsphotonics.7b00731. (2017).

4. All-angle negative refraction of highly squeezed plasmon and phonon polaritons in graphene-boron nitride heterostructures. Lin, X. Yang, Y., Rivera N., Lopez, J. J., Shen, Y., Kaminer I., Chen, H., Zhang, B., Joannopoulos, J.D., and Soljacic, M. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. Vol. 114, No 26., 6717-6721. (2017).

3. Tailoring the energy distribution and loss of 2D plasmons. Lin, X., Rivera, N., Lopez, J.J., Kaminer, I., Chen, H., and Soljacic, M.. New Journal of Physics. (2016).

2. Rivera, N., Hsu, C.W., Zhen, B., Buljan, H., Joannopoulos J.D., and Soljacic, M.,
"Controlling the directionality and dimensionality of radiation through separable bound
states in the continuum" Scientific Reports. 6, 33394. (2016).

1. Rivera, N.*, Kaminer, I*., Zhen, B., Joannopoulos, J.D. and Soljacic, M., "Shrinking light to allow forbidden transitions on the atomic scale". Science 353 (6296), 263-269. (2016).


4. LeRoy Apker Award (APS), Oct 2016
3. Joel Matthew Orloff Award for Research (MIT), May 2016
2. Joel Matthew Orloff Award for Service (MIT), May 2016
1. Order of the Lepton Award (MIT), May 2016