Dr. Halas is a professor at Rice University and the founding director of the Rice Laboratory for Nanophotonics. She is a pioneering researcher in the field of plasmonics, creating the concept of the “tunable plasmon” and inventing a family of nanoparticles with resonances spanning the visible and infrared regions of the spectrum. Halas pursues fundamental studies of coupled plasmonic systems, and applications of plasmonics in biomedicine, optoelectronics, chemical sensing, photocatalysis, and solar energy, with ‘solar steam’ technology. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
When asked to summarize her research, Dr. Halas commented, “My research is centered around the creation of new nanoscale objects that perform a function…understanding the physical properties of those objects at a predictive and quantitative level…and incorporating them into unique applications of societal and technological impact.”
Halas’ lecture will focus on the new types of metal-based nanoparticles and nanostructures of various shapes and compositions that have given rise to new strategies to harvest, control, and manipulate light based on these structures and their properties. By assembling metallic nanoparticles into useful building blocks, a striking parallel between the plasmons of these structures and wave functions of simple quantum systems is universally observed.These unique light-controlling properties can be put to use in a multitude of ways: for detecting single molecules and following chemical reactions, for generation of hot electrons for color-specific photodetection  and photocatalysis, and most recently, for high-efficiency solar steam generation poised to tackle our planet’s energy and sustainability challenges.
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 E. M. Prodan, C. Radloff, N. J. Halas and P. Nordlander, Science 302, 419-422 (2003).  M. W. Knight, H. Sobhani, P. Nordlander, and N. J. Halas, Science 332, 702-4 (2011).  Shaunak Mukherjee, Florian Libisch, Nicholas Large, Oara Neumann, Lisa V. Brown, Jin Cheng, Britt Lassiter, Emily A. Carter, Peter Nordlander, and Naomi J. Halas, Nano Letters 13, 240-247 (2012).  O. Neumann, A. S. Urban, J. Day, S. Lal, P. Nordlander, and N. J. Halas, ACS Nano 7, 42-49 (2013).