N.J. Halas, S. Lal, S. Link,W.-S. Chang, D. Natelson, J.H. Hafner, and P. Nordlander
Adv. Mater. 24, 4842-4877 (2012). SPECIAL ISSUE
Fundamental Science of Plasmonics
The Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) is a multidisciplinary laboratory for studying the fundamental properties of surface plasmon and basic science at the boundary of classical and quantum systems. We are developing novel and advanced theoretical tools to understand nanoscale phenomena such as plasmon hybridization, quantum effects, non-locality, and fundamental interaction processes. The theoretical models that are developed here are strongly compared with massive computational tools (FDTD, FEM, DDA, BEM, Mie Theory), thus tested and validated by state of art experiments. The LANP exists to provide a strong collaborative platform for theoreticans and experimentalists to come together for the investigation and development of ideas that are fundamental to understanding science at the nanoscale.
Faculty: Naomi Halas, Stephan Link, and Peter Nordlander
In this particular research thrust, we are investigating methods of combining plasmonic nanostructures with electro-active materials to controllably and reversibly alter the plasmonic properties of nanostructures. In particular we are examining nanostructures that are hybridied with materials like liquid crystals, graphene, or electro-active dielectrics to offer methods of engineering the plasmonic response of nanostructures. We are also interested in ways of using plasmonic particles for catalysis to investigate how the excitation of a surface plasmon can drive or enhance chemical reactions near a nanoparticle’s surface.
Single Nanoparticle and Single Molecule Spectroscopy
Faculty: Jason Hafner, Naomi Halas, and Stephan Link
Typically, the optical properties of nanoparticles are examined by taking an ensemble extinction spectroscopy measurement. However, ensemble extinction spectroscopy averages over all nanoparticle sizes and shapes within the detection volume and does not distinguish between the absorptive and radiative properties of the nanoparticles. To gain a more fundamental understanding of the optical properties of nanoparticles, we are pursuing projects in single particle microspectroscopy to obtain fundamental spectra that are not affected by ensemble variations to better study the plasmonic properties of anisotropic nanostructures. We are also using plasmonic nanostructures to develop single molecule sensors for highly-sensitive label-free biosensing applications.
Line Shape Engineering
We are leading a collaboration with the University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, and Ohio State University in a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) funded by the Department of Defense. This research area will address “novel nanostructures for the controlled propagation of electromagnetic energy” by investigating nanostructures and nanoparticle complexes that can block or transmit specific colors of light from the ultraviolet to far-infrared in a pre-designed manner with highly controllable line-widths and depths. These novel nanostructures will have broad-ranging application from fields as diverse as smart materials to next-generation communication systems.
Theranostics and Biomedical Applications
We currently have several collaborative projects with the Baylor College of Medicine and U. T. M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. These projects focus on either light-triggered gene therapy or nanoparticle-enabled theranostics (therapeutics plus diagnostics) and their applications in cancer identification and treatment. We are also exploring the theranostic applications of plasmonic nanobubbles: nanometer-scale vapor bubbles generated by the local heating of plasmonic nanoparticles.
Faculty: Naomi Halas, Peter Nordlander, and Isabell Thomann
In this research area, we are interested in the scattering and absorption properties of plasmonic nanoparticles for solar energy harvesting. In particular, we examine methods of using metallic nanoparticles to redirect incident light into a waveguide or solar cell, allowing ultra-thin-film photovoltaic cells to efficiently collect light while minimizing material needs. In addition, we are collaborating with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at Los Alamos National Laboratory on projects that investigate the current-harvesting properties of coupled quantum dot-plasmonic devices. Furthermore, we are pursuing several projects in solar thermal energy for cost-effective solutions to energy-demanding applications like water purification, autoclaving, Solar-to-fuel energy conversion, Plasmon-enhanced fuel generation, and electricity production for the advancement of developing countries and global health needs.