Our goal is to understand and control what happens when light interacts with semiconductor nanocrystals, metal nanoparticles, and assemblies of these particles. Semiconductor nanocrystals and metal nanoparticles both interact strongly with light in a way that can be tuned by changing the size, shape, and composition of the particles. Coupling the nanoparticles to one another can lead to new optical properties that are qualitatively different from the properties of any of the components. These opportunities to engineer optical response make the nanoparticles and assemblies of the nanoparticles attractive as the building blocks for a wide range of applications, including the conversion of sunlight into useful energy, detection of biomolecules, and nanoscale photonics. In all of these applications, the nanoparticles absorb energy from incoming light and then transform it, on ultrafast time scales, into a different form of energy: electrical current, mechanical motion, or an altered optical signal. We aim to enable these applications by studying the processes that occur after light is absorbed by nanoparticles, on time scales from femtoseconds to nanoseconds. This is accomplished by ultrafast laser spectroscopy and by single-particle optical microscopy.
Student researchers wanted! If you are an undergraduate or graduate student interested in working on a research project in the group, please contact Dr. Pelton.