Luigi Bonacina

Associate Professor

Luigi Bonacina Photo


Université de Genève
Department of Applied Physics
Rue de l'Ecole-de-Médecine 20
CH-1205 Genève

Phone +41 22 379 05 08
Office ECMED180

GOOGLE Scholar
ResearchID (web of Science)

This page is obsolete! Please, follow this link to our new webpage


Nonlinear Bioimaging LAB


Teaching / Enseignement

Ongoing Projects

H2020-ICT-2020-2 FAIR CHARM (coordinator)


WEAVE project : ADAPT  (start 2023)

SNF/ANR DARE: Deep And REsolved

Interreg Switzerland-France OncoNanoScreen

Skin cancer (with CHUV)

UniGE INNOGAP tech-transfer fund


Harmonic Nanoparticles

Harmonics Nanoparticles diagram

The term Harmonic Nanoparticles (HNPs) indicates a family of metal oxide nanocrystals possessing appealing optical properties aside from classical luminescence. In fact, because of the lack of inversion symmetry in their crystal structure, these materials display high nonlinear optical response. In particular, the lowest nonlinear term of their nonlinear susceptibility, χ(2), is non vanishing differently from the case of isotropic materials. For this reason, they are primarily employed in imaging applications based on second harmonic generation. We have recently shown that third and higher harmonic generation and frequency mixings are also detectable under standard imaging conditions for some of these materials, hence the name.

The distinctive features of HNPs as opposed to luminescent probes include their fully coherent emission, quasi-instantaneous response, the absence of bleaching/blinking when excited outside the absorption bands of the material, and spectral flexibility (spanning from the ultraviolet to the infrared). This last asset is particularly appealing for bio-imaging applications, as HNPs allows imaging beyond the “classical” tissue transparency window (NIR I: 650-950 nm), in the newly addressed NIR II (1100-1350 nm) and NIR III (1600-1870 nm) windows. Working in these spectral regions enables sensibly deeper imaging penetration because of reduced scattering at longer wavelengths.

We have shown that the simultaneous detection of multiple harmonics from the same nano-object benefits to selectivity in imaging and sensing applications. Our present research spans from fundamental optical characterization to bio-oriented demonstrations such as cell tracking in tissue and physiological fluids, with a specific focus on regenerative medicine and immunotherapy applications.

Further readings

Scientific Articles at UniGE

Scientific Articles with Previous Affiliations

  • BONACINA, Luigi et al. The ultrafast structural response of solid parahydrogen: A complementary experimental/simulation investigation. In : The Journal of Chemical Physics, 2006, 125 (5), 054507
  • BONACINA, Luigi et al. Time-resolved photodynamics of triangular-shaped silver nanoplates. In : Nano Letters, 2006, 6 (1), 7-10


  • BONACINA, Luigi et al. Lattice response of quantum solids to an impulsive local perturbation. In : Physical Review Letters, 2005, 95 (1), 015301


  • HELBING, Jan et al. Time-resolved visible and infrared study of the cyano complexes of myoglobin and of hemoglobin I from Lucina Pectinata. In : Biophysical journal, 2004, 87 (3), 1881-1891


  • VIGLIOTTI, Franco et al. Ultrafast structural dynamics in electronically excited solid neon. I. Real-time probing of the electronic bubble formation. In : Physical Review B, 2003, 67 (11)


  • VIGLIOTTI, Franco et al. Ultrafast expansion and vibrational coherences of electronicBubbles' in solid neon. In : Chemical Physics Letters, 2002, 362 (1-2), 31-38
  • VIGLIOTTI, Franco et al. Structural dynamics in quantum solids. II. Real-time probing of the electronic bubble formation in solid hydrogens. In : The Journal of Chemical Physics, 2002, 116 (11), 4553-4562


  • BONACINA, Luigi et al. Dynamics of a coherently driven micromaser by the Monte Carlo wavefunction approach. In : Journal of Optics B: Quantum and Semiclassical Optics, 2000, 2 (4), 490

General Physics for 1st year bachelor Biology students (fall semester) Moodle page

Biophotonics for Master students at the Faculty of Sciences (Physics, Biochemistry, Biology and Life Sciences PhD School) Moodle page

Introduction to Biophotonics (graduate students of the Lemanic Neuroscience Doctoral School) Moodle page