Naomi J. Halas

Rice University

Election Year: 2013
Primary Section: 33, Applied Physical Sciences
Secondary Section: 14, Chemistry
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

I am interested in optics at the nanoscale, in particular, how we can use metallic structures of subwavelength dimensions to manipulate light and harness the energy of photons in new ways.  The fundamental mechanism to achieve this is the collective electronic excitations of metals, known as surface plasmons.  As a complement to optical sources with tunable wavelengths, I have developed optical materials whose absorption and scattering properties could be tuned just as systematically.  I invented the first tunable plasmon-resonant nanoparticle, a core-shell geometry that I named a "nanoshell": a nanoparticle whose properties were first predicted theoretically more than four decades prior to our physical realization of this structure.  The creation of tunable plasmonic nanoparticles directly stimulated a new theoretical picture for coupled plasmons known as plasmon hybridization, developed with theory collaborator Peter Nordlander.  This was the conceptual breakthrough that enabled us to develop a wide range of coupled nanoparticle systems with tunable optical properties including coherent plasmonic phenomena.  I am also pursuing the use of plasmonic nanoparticles in applications that may benefit society, from photothermal cancer therapy and chemical and biomolecular sensing to photocatalysis and direct steam generation using sunlight and light-absorbing nanoparticles.

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