With this award, the Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry Program in the Chemistry Division is funding Professor Stephen Link of William March Rice University to study chiral plasmonics on the single nanoparticle and potentially single molecule scale. Chiral objects cannot be overlaid with their mirror image. An everyday example of this is human hands- a right handed glove doesn't fit on the left hand. Therefore, the chirality of an object is sometimes termed its handedness. Many important molecules are chiral, including drugs, proteins, and DNA. In the case of pharmaceuticals, the chirality of the drug is absolutely essential to its function. Molecular chirality is measured by circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy. Stephan Link, at Rice University, is developing novel highly sensitive methods to measure the chirality of single molecules. The applications of this work include biomedical research, the pharmaceutical industry, and chemical synthesis and catalysis. The excitement about scientific research and discovery in nanotechnology is communicated through outreach activities such as Rice University's Civic Scientist Program to K-12 students to inspire them to pursue careers in science-related fields.
The objectives of this proposal are to be accomplished using unique spectroscopic methods capable of recording CD spectra of single plasmonic nanoparticles and super-resolution imaging single molecules, in combination with electron microscopy and electromagnetic simulations. The relationship between CD signal enhancement and nanostructure composition and morphology (size, shape, interparticle coupling) and the intrinsically linked plasmon modes (bright, dark) is possible with the proposed studies. This information cannot be obtained in ensemble measurements, especially for strongly coupled nanoparticles prepared by chemical synthesis. The outcomes of these studies are expected have wide scientific impact in areas ranging from the development of chiral sensing platforms, and of chiral catalysts to the basis of plasmon-exciton coupling. Concepts from multiple disciplines are included in this research, forming a platform for a broad educational program specifically designed for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. Exciting vignettes related to scientific research and discovery in nanotechnology are to be communicated to K-12 students through outreach activities, such as Rice University's Civic Scientist Program, to expose these students to the potential for creative advancement via careers in STEM-related fields.