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Nanophotonics and Biofunctional Structures

We use ultra-fast-spectroscopy and advanced microscopy to understand optical energy transduction and quantum sensing, and also create nature-inspired assemblies for energy conversion, transport, and biosensing.

The Nanophotonics and Biofunctional Structures (nPBS) group is focused on understanding and controlling light-matter interactions in nanomaterials. Our approach is to visualize and characterize the dynamics of light-induced processes through time-resolved spectroscopies and microscopies that are designed to operate over multiple contrast mechanisms and energy ranges, so as to gain a complete view and develop predictive power regarding energy flow, conversion, and dissipation within nanostructures and to the surrounding environment. Principles of bio-assembly, synthesis, and nanofabrication are used to design and precisely construct optical and bioinspired nanomaterials to be studied. Through this approach, we ultimately seek to discover novel optical nanomaterials and phenomena that can impact technologically important areas.

Our work spans the three CNM themes of Quantum Materials and Sensing, Manipulating Nanoscale Interactions, and Nanoscale Dynamics. In the Quantum Materials and Sensing theme, we are targeting key needs of importance in quantum information science, including the development of nanoscale single-photon sources for quantum optics and achievement of critical improvements in their deterministic placement. We are further pursuing photon entanglement and the development of new approaches to transduction of quantum information in hybrid quantum systems. In the Manipulating Nanoscale Interactions theme, synthesis and/or bioassembly approaches are used to enable new opportunities in optical biosensing, energy transport, and energy conversion. In the Nanoscale Dynamics theme, we seek to understand ultrafast processes in nanomaterials that influence functionality, such as the dynamics of hot carriers in nanostructures, the influence of phonon flow on optical energy conversion, and the dynamics of exciton transport in bio-assemblies. Within this theme, we characterize the dynamics of charge, exciton, and spin transport in new interacting nanoparticle assemblies with tunable electronic states and coherences.

Research activities in nPBS include:

  • Hybrid systems—to build new forms of matter with tailored functionalities
  • Visualization of nanoparticle interactions—to understand, predict, and design physical and chemical interactions
  • Quantum information science research, including studies of photon correlation and entanglement, coherent excitations, and quantum transduction
  • Evolution of nanostructures under external stimuli—in situ and in operando studies to understand dynamic mechanisms
  • Ultrafast transient absorption and emission spectroscopies and microscopies to understand energy flow, light harvesting, and charge separation in nanoscale systems
  • Creating new nanoscale functionalities for nanophotonics, quantum sensing, and energy conversion


  • Femtosecond to microsecond time-resolved absorption spectroscopy with UV to NIR excitation and UV to THz probe
  • Ultrafast photoluminescence spectroscopy and microscopy from UV through NIR
  • Single-photon microscope for quantum optics and photon correlation studies
  • Confocal Raman microscopy and mapping
  • Pulsed and continuous-wave electron paramagnetic resonance
  • Scanning electron microscopy and laser scanning confocal fluorescence microscopy
  • Synthesis of nanoparticles, clusters, and bio-hybrid nanoparticles
  • Nanoparticle self-assembly
  • Automated synthesizers for synthesis of DNA, RNA, and peptides
  • Automated, high-throughput materials synthesis, processing, and characterization

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