Sustainable Plasmonics and Plasmonics for Sustainability

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From 10/10/2018

"Sustainable Plasmonics and Plasmonics for Sustainability" by Professor Naomi J. Halas, Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemistry and Physics and Astronomy, Rice University, Houston, USA.

Abstract on this lecture
Metallic nanoparticles, used since antiquity to impart intense, vibrant color into materials, then brought to scientific attention in the 19th century as “Faraday’s colloid”, have more recently become a central tool in the nanoscale manipulation of light.

While the material foundation of this field has been built on noble and coinage metals, more recently we have begun to question whether the same, or similar properties can also be realized in far more sustainable materials.

Aluminum, the most abundant metal on our planet, can support high-quality plasmonic properties spanning the UV-to-IR region of the spectrum, and, in similarity with Ag, can be used to detect trace quantities of molecules in the sub-ppb range by surface-enhanced spectroscopies.

Nanoscale graphene, reduced to the molecular limit, sustains many plasmonic properties but introduces new ones such as single-electron color switching, which can be utilized in unique electrochromic devices. They have previously introduced photothermal effects for biomedical therapeutics; now, years after their initial demonstration, this approach is being utilized in human trials for the precise and highly localized ablation of cancerous regions of the prostate.

A variation of this nanoparticle has been used to enhance contrast in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), providing a potentially safer alternative to Gadolinium-based MRI contrast agents currently in universal use.  Photothermal effects can also be harvested for sustainability applications, which we have most recently demonstrated in an off-grid solar thermal desalination system that transforms membrane distillation into a scalable water purification process.

This was a double lecture together with Peter Nordlander