Nanophotonic tools for photocatalysis
Recent advances in nanophotonics have resulted in better and better optical nanoprobes, which now achieve a spatial resolution on the few nanometer scale. In addition, specialized optical nanoantenna structures can be engineered for the application at hand. We are interested in studying fundamental light-matter interactions at the nanoscale, sensing molecules and single nanoparticles, and imaging novel materials. An arsenal of linear and nonlinear optical spectroscopies, and elastic and inelastic light scattering techniques will be applied to image the nanoscale, and to obtain spectroscopic signals with chemical specificity.
The techniques we develop are generally applicable to materials science, energy and biology. One particular application that motivates us is to probe the structural /electronic features on catalyst surfaces under working conditions, i.e. inside operating photocatalytic devices. Such in situ characterization is indispensable, because catalyst surfaces tend to change their morphology during catalytic activity, and reaction rates and pathways strongly depend on the liquid environment.