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NanoPhotonics Centre


Nanophotonic Catalysis

"Light is a powerful scalpel and carrier of information. If not for the diffraction-limit we would be able to focus light to nanometre length-scales, directly observe how molecules and atoms behave, and spectrally resolve their interactions. We would also be able to optically deliver just enough energy to exactly where it is needed for breaking molecular bonds and catalysing chemical reactions, eliminating the need for inefficient bulk-scale heating. Bypassing conventional optics, such nanoscale confinement of light does become possible using metals where incident light excites collective electron oscillations (plasmons) circumventing the diffraction limit." Dr. Bart de Nijs

Current work

Tracking Single Molecule Chemistry

Using atomic scale confinement of light, individual molecules can be optically isolated and tracked over time using surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). Due to the large amount of information contained in the fingerprinting SERS spectra from single molecules, unique insights into imprtant chemical processes can be obtained. For example, by pairing dynamic single molecule SERS spectra to extensive DFT calculations real-space information can be recreated of how molecules and atoms interact.

Key papers:

Griffiths et al. Nature Communications 12, 6759 (2021)

Huang et al. Science Advances 7, eabg1790 (2021)

Plasmon Enabled Photocatalysis

By combining the powerful optical properties of plasmonic nanomaterials with catalytically active compounds new optical nanotechnologies can be developed that are capable of efficiently converting optical energy into chemical work.

Key papers:

Sokołowski et al. Nature Nanotechnology 16, 1121 (2021)

Nanoscale Photo-Electro Chemistry

By contacting individual plasmonic nanoconstructs electrical biases can be applied across individual plasmonic nanogaps. This allows for electro-chemical processes to be tracked in real-time on the nanoscale using a range of optical interrogation techniques.

Key papers:

Kos et al. Nature communications 11, 3910 (2020)

Di Martino et al.Nature Electronics 3, 687 (2020)

Optically Controlled Chemistry

By using plasmonic constructs local reaction conditions can be modified, eliminating e.g. the need for slow and inefficient bulk scale heating. This allows for rapid switching on and off chemical reactions using light.

Key papers:

Huang et al. Faraday Discussions 214, 445 (2019)



Latest news

NanoPhotonics @ Femincam

29 September 2023

PhD students from the NanoPhotonics Centre have attended Femincam, a one-day conference celebrating emerging women in science and leaders in electronic materials. During the event Sara Rocchetti also presented her poster on “Amplified plasmonic forces from DNA-origami scaffolded single dyes in nanogaps”.

ICAVS flash presentations prizes awarded to Marika and Yuling!

4 September 2023

A number of group members recently attended ICAVS12 in Krakow. Congratulations to Yuling who won the prize for the best flash presentation and to Marika for winning the best flash presentation audience award!

Sara Rocchetti - Best poster at Chemical and NanoScience symposium

17 May 2023

Sara Rocchetti won the best poster award at the 10th Chemical and NanoScience symposium Newcastle (CNSN-X) with her work on DNA origami and nanophotonics. Well done!