Science and Engineering
Zijie Yan, Norbert F. Scherer, Stephen K. Gray
Light-Driven Self-Organization of Reconfigurable Artificial Nanomaterials
The ability to reconfigure nanoscale building blocks into different architectures has enormous potential for materials science. Current bottom-up assembly approaches do not offer this flexibility. This project addresses this challenge by exploiting light-driven self-organization to create materials with customized, reconfigurable structures and properties. Self-organization arises from optical binding interactions among strongly scattering plasmonic nanoparticles, and can be tailored using an integrated computational and experimental approach. Computationally, coupled electrodynamics-Langevin dynamics allows the researchers to design optical fields and optimize the optical binding potentials over a multi-particle system. Experimentally, shaped optical fields will be created from counter-propagating laser beams whose intensity, phase, and polarization can be modulated in space and time. Real-time beam shaping using computer-controlled wavefront modulators are used to change optical fields and direct self-organization instantaneously. This will enable completely new types of material: reconfigurable optical matter with unusual nanoparticle superlattices. The team will explore the effects of driving nonequilibrium conditions on structure and other phenomena. New science and applications are expected to arise from coupled photonic-plasmonic interactions in these materials.
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