Sheikh Saud Lecture on Advanced Materials

The College of Science and Technology and Temple Materials Institute are pleased to host the 2019 Sheikh Saud Lecture on Advanced Materials featuring Dr. Naomi J. Halas, best known as the first person to demonstrate that controlling the shape of metallic nanoparticles determines their color.

Nanomaterials and Light for Sustainability and Societal Impact
Dr. Naomi Halas, Rice University
March 26, 2019
Science Education and Research Center
Temple University, Main Campus

Halas is the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University, where she also holds faculty appointments in the Departments of Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry, Materials Science and Nanoengineering, and Bioengineering. She is best known as the first person to demonstrate that controlling the shape of metallic nanoparticles determines their color.

Halas pursues fundamental studies of plasmonic and nanophotonic systems and their applications in biomedicine, optoelectronics, chemical sensing, solar steam generation with applications in off-grid water treatment, and most recently, plasmonic photocatalysis. She is author of more than 300 refereed publications, has more than 20 issued patents, and has presented more than 500 invited talks. She has been a Clarivate (formerly Thomson-Reuters) Highly Cited Researcher in both chemistry and physics since 2013.

Halas is a co-founder of Nanospectra Biosciences, a Houston-based company that has developed ultralocalized photothermal therapy for prostate cancer, now in multisite clinical trials, and Syzygy Plasmonics, a company developing photocatalysts that enable chemical reactions of industrial importance at temperatures far below current technologies. She has been awarded the ACS Award in Colloid Chemistry, the APS Frank Isakson Prize for Optical Effects in Solids, the R. W. Wood Prize of the OSA, and the APS Julius Lilienfeld Prize for outstanding contributions to physics by a single individual who also has exceptional skills in lecturing to diverse audiences.

Halas has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (all U.S.).

Nanomaterials and Light for Sustainability and Societal Impact

Metallic nanoparticles, used since antiquity to impart intense, vibrant color into materials, then brought to scientific attention in the 19th century as “Faraday’s colloid,” have more recently become a central tool in the nanoscale manipulation of light. When excited by light, metallic nanoparticles undergo a coherent oscillation of their conduction electrons—known as a plasmon—which is responsible for their strong light-matter interactions and properties.   

While the scientific foundation of this field has been built on noble and coinage metals, most typically gold or silver, more recently researchers have begun to question whether the same, or similar properties, can also be realized in more sustainable materials.  Aluminum, the most abundant metal on our planet, can support high-quality plasmonic properties spanning the UV-to-IR region of the spectrum.  Coupling a plasmonic nanoantenna directly to catalytic nanoparticles transforms the entire complex into an efficient light-controlled catalyst capable of driving chemical reactions under surprisingly mild, low temperature conditions. This new type of light-based catalyst can be utilized for remediating greenhouse gases, and converting them to useful molecules for industry, or benign molecules for a cleaner planet. 

Researchers have previously introduced photothermal effects for biomedical therapeutics; now, years after their initial demonstration, this approach is being utilized in human trials for the precise and highly localized ablation of cancerous regions of the prostate, eliminating the highly deleterious side effects characteristic of conventional prostate cancer therapies. Photothermal effects can also be harvested for sustainability applications, which we have most recently demonstrated in an off-grid solar thermal desalination system that transforms membrane distillation into a scalable water purification process.

The Sheikh Saud Lecture on Advanced Materials is named for H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, United Arab Emirates Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. The Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research was established in 2009 to aid in the social, cultural, and economic development of Ras Al Khaimah, a northern emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Sheikh Saud places great value on education and research, and the Al Qasimi Foundation was created to generate a world-class body of research on Ras Al Khaimah and the broader UAE region, develop local capacity in the public sector, and engage the community in its work. The Al Qasimi Foundation approaches its work collaboratively, and aims to establish relationships with talented scholars and world-class universities, innovative public policy research centers, established government institutions, and strategic partners in the private and non-governmental sectors.