The manipulation of light: One nanoparticle at a time

Naomi Halas

Stanley C. Moore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
and Professor of Chemistry
Rice University, Houston, Texas

Metal Nanoshells are precisely layered metal-dielectric nanoparticles whose optical resonances are controlled by the relative thicknesses of their constituent layers. This layered topology gives precise control over optical fields at subwavelength dimensions, and can be considered a fundamental component of nano-optics, where electromagnetic properties are controlled by nanoscale design. This topology also provides a new way to study the electronic and dynamical properties of mesoscopic metals that is complementary to the low-temperature, transport based methods commonly used.

Unlike photonic crystals, which require long-range periodicity to manipulate light, individual Metal Nanoshells can be integrated with existing materials and device structures, allowing one to modify and manipulate the optical properties of materials in unique and unusual ways. The example of a nanoshell-polymer composite material with a dramatic opto-mechanical response will be discussed. Gold nanoshells also provide a biocompatible substrate for the conjugation of proteins: this has led to the development of real time medical testing based on Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering, and also provides a promising strategy for cell-specific photothermal cancer therapy.