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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 Christmas Party

16 December 2021

Many thanks to Chris and Jeremy for organising a very nice Christmas dinner at Jesus College. It was good to be able to see everyone again. Now we just need to figure out who gave which present to who :) Christmas_dinner_2021_2 Christmas_dinner_2021_3

Featured article in Nature Communications

30 November 2021

Our work on tracking the interactions between single molecules and gold atoms has been selected as Featured Article in Nature Communications. A great recognition of the hard work put in by Jack and Tamás! Article available here . single_molecule_gold_Atom.gif

Bowling November '21

29 November 2021

A nice evening out with the NanoPhotonics group. About 30 people from the NanoPhotoncis centre decided to go bowling together at the Leisure Centre. And ofcourse pub afterwards. Thanks to the organizers Sarah and Ishaan.