University of Texas at Austin, UTSA Lead Five-Member Nanoscience Consortium

Oct. 29, 2007

AUSTIN, Texas—Researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and The University of Texas at Austin will explore ways to control optical energy for applications in nanoscience and nanotechnology as leaders of a five-university consortium awarded $1.4 million by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) also includes Harvard University, Cornell University and Case Western Reserve University.

Their research on focusing small measures of light could benefit the medical field, where high-resolution imaging could be used on living tissues to detect diseases, and the semiconductor industry, where chips could be made smaller through the use of nanoscale light.

"The development of future imaging applications and nanophotonic devices is impeded by light diffraction," said Andrey Chabanov, NIRT principal investigator and assistant professor of physics at UTSA. "We have interesting ideas about how to circumvent the diffraction limit by utilizing polaritonic and plasmonic materials. This might enable super-resolution imaging, which can revolutionize label-free detection of biological and chemical substances."

Gennady Shvets, co-principal investigator and associate professor of physics at The University of Texas at Austin, said the work will benefit from interdisciplinary collaboration among the consortium members.

"Nanoplasmonics is a very new and promising area of science and technology which requires collaboration between scientists and engineers from different fields," said Shvets. "Our team includes synthetic chemists, materials scientists, and experts in modeling, simulations and optics."

UTSA's nanoscience research focus involves fabrication and optical characterization of nanostructures for energy concentration in the infrared and visible spectral ranges.

The University of Texas at Austin group will conduct experiments and theoretical modeling on a mid-infrared 'superlens,' a novel device capable of revealing nanoscale features.

Researchers hope that by the end of the project they will integrate the superlens with a nanofluidic delivery system and image various biological objects in their natural aqueous environment.

The funding will also be used to introduce high school and college students to the world of nanoscience. Students will participate in team members' laboratories and in summer school programs in nanoscience at Harvard's research laboratories.

For more information contact: Lee Clippard, The University of Texas at Austin, 512-232-0675; Kris Rodriguez, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 210-458-5116.