Webinar Programs

In 1833, Faraday combined silver and sulfur and discovered the first material with a negative temperature coefficient of resistance, silver sulfide.At the time, the word semiconductor did not even exist. Yet we now know that this first semiconducting material laid the foundation for an entirely new and extremely important class of electronic materials. Today, a similar revolution is unfolding for optical materials.  Textbook conceptions of light-matter interactions, such as the notions of exclusively positive refractive indices and reciprocal light propagation, are being redefined by new optical materials. These materials allow light to be controlled in ways previously thought impossible, providing techniques to circumvent the diffraction limit of light and tune both electric and magnetic light-matter interactions. In this presentation, I will describe my group’s efforts to develop such new optical materials, and use them to directly visualize, probe, and control nanoscale systems and phenomena – particularly those relevant to energy and biology. We first explore the optical resonances of individual metallic nanoparticles as they transition from a classical to a quantum-influenced regime. We then use these results to monitor heterogeneous catalytic reactions on individual nanoparticles. Subsequently, using real-time manipulation of plasmonic nanoparticles, we investigate the effects of classical-coupling and quantum tunneling between metallic particles on their optical resonances. By utilizing these effects, we demonstrate the colloidal synthesis of an isotropic metafluid or "metamaterial paint" that exhibits a strong magnetic response – and the potential for negative refractive indices – at visible frequencies. Finally, we introduce a new technique, cathodoluminescence tomography, that enables three-dimensional visualization of light-matter interactions with nanoscale spatial and spectral resolution.


What You Will Learn/Seminar Objectives

  • How to develop new optical materials and tools that enable controlled light-matter interactions across wavelength and sub-wavelength scales
  • An understanding of how the optical properties of individual and coupled metallic nanoparticles change when they transition from a classical to a quantum-influenced regime.
  • Insights into the thermodynamics of ion intercalation in individual, catalytically-active metallic nanoparticles.
  • Insights into how coupling between nanoparticles can enable optical-frequency magnetism and colloidal synthesis of an isotropic metafluid.
  • Basic principles of electron spectroscopy and tomography for visualizing light-matter interactions at the nanoscale, and in 3D.


Who Should Attend

  • Graduate students and postdocs working in nanophotonics and plasmonics, or students interested in noble metal nanoparticle synthesis and characterization.
  • Industrial researchers in optics, energy, or characterization fields.
  • Companies who develop energy-harvesting devices or are interested in novel optical materials.



The webinar is prepared for an intermediate level. A basic understanding of electromagnetism and quantum physics will be helpful.



Jen Dionne, Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, USA

Seminar Information
Date Presented:
July 22, 2014 11:00 AM Eastern
1 hour
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Visualizing Catalytic Reactions and Light-Matter Interactions with Nanometer-Scale Resolution

Jennifer Dionne is an assistant professor in the department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University. Jen received B.S. degrees in Physics and Electrical & Systems Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis in 2003, and a Ph.D. degree in Applied Physics from the California Institute of Technology in 2009, under the supervision of Prof. Harry Atwater. She joined Stanford in 2010 following a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of CA, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, working with Prof. Paul Alivisatos. Jen’s research develops new optical materials for applications ranging from high-efficiency solar energy conversion to bioimaging and manipulation. This research has led to demonstration of negative refraction at visible wavelengths, development of a subwavelength silicon electro-optic modulator, development of quantum plasmonic materials, design of new optical tweezers for nano-specimen trapping, and demonstration of a metamaterial fluid. She was recently awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2014), the inaugural Kavli Nanoscience Early Career Lectureship (2013), and was also named one of Technology Review's TR35 - 35 international innovators under 35 tackling important problems in transformative ways (2011). Further, her work has been recognized with an NSF CAREER Award (2012), AFOSR Young Investigator Award (2011), Outstanding Young Alum award from Washington University in St. Louis (2012), and the Materials Research Society Gold Award (2008).

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