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News > AFOSR Funded Nanorice Research Seeks to Focus Light on Small Regions in Space
 
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Nanorice
The graphic above depicts various nanorice, which is a rice-shaped nanoparticle with a non-conducting core made of iron oxide and covered by a metallic shell made of gold. Scientist plan to attach the nanorice to scanning probe microscopes to obtain very clear image quality that surpasses today's technolgoy. For the Air Force, this technilogy could be used as a tool to develop new high-speed optoelectronic materials and to monitor chemical reactions.
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AFOSR Funded Nanorice Research Seeks to Focus Light on Small Regions in Space

Posted 7/31/2006   Updated 7/27/2007 Email story   Print story

    


by Erin Crawley
AFOSR Public Affairs (Quantech)


7/31/2006 - ARLINGTON, Va. -- Using funding from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research here, a team of engineers, physicists and chemists from Rice University's Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) have successfully created 'nanorice,' which will be used to focus light on small regions in space.

Findings on this nanorice research were recently presented by principal investigator, Professor Naomi Halas, during an AFOSR program review in Arlington. Results of the study were also published in a recent issue of Nano Letters.

Halas is a Stanley C. Moore Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Professor of Chemistry, Nanoengineering, Plasmonics and Nanophotonics at Rice University in Houston.

In her presentation entitled "Plasmonic Nanostructures: Artificial Molecules Enabling Nanoscale Spectroscopies," Halas discussed the special properties of metallic nanoparticles and how they can essentially capture light and focus that light around themselves to remarkably high intensities.

"A molecule bound to a metallic surface has the ability to act like a very bright beacon in a much brighter manner than if this molecule was just floating in space somewhere," said Halas.

Nanorice is a rice-shaped nanoparticle with a non-conducting core made of iron oxide and covered by a metallic shell made of gold. Scientists plan to attach the nanorice to scanning probe microscopes to obtain very clear image quality that surpasses today's technology. For the Air Force, this technology could be used to develop new high-speed optoelectronic materials and to monitor chemical reactions.

Halas' research has many possible benefits to the Air Force. Halas said the Air Force is very interested in developing technology to control light at dimensions smaller than one wavelength, along with the ability to probe properties of molecules next to surfaces.

According to Halas, her research can benefit the Air Force in many ways. For example, she suggested that her work could lead to improvements in space vehicles and coatings. It can also be used for advancements in ultra-fast switches that control certain types of vehicles and/or their components. Additionally, Halas suggested her research may also have applications for keeping personnel safe by protecting them from chemical hazards or biohazards.

"There are a variety of different directorates (within the Air Force Research Laboratory) where these sorts of very basic scientific questions can have very direct applicability - not 10 years away, but maybe more like three years away," said Halas.

Halas said she's very grateful for AFOSR support and said it has made a positive impact in her work.

"The funding from AFOSR has been extraordinarily helpful. It has provided continuity and an opportunity to focus on basic science while we are developing a very strong sense of relevance for our technologies at the same time," she said. "One of the great advantages of Mike's [Michael Berman, program manager at AFOSR] program is that not only does he fund outstanding science by outstanding scientists but he, also in the context of this funding, provides us many opportunities to understand broad areas of relevance within the DoD."

Very often it is the sharing of ideas that spawn new ideas and new research, which is one of the reasons why AFOSR sponsors the annual program reviews.

By funding research programs such as Halas' plasmonic nanostructures project, AFOSR continues to expand the horizon of scientific knowledge through its leadership and management of the Air Force's basic research program. As a vital component of the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFOSR supports Air Force's mission of control and maximum utilization of air and space. Many of the technological breakthroughs enjoyed by millions today, such as lasers, GPS, and the computer mouse trace their scientific roots to research first funded by AFOSR.



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