Prof. Björn Reinhard receives Photonics Center Faculty Technology Development Award
There is an acute need for an effective explosive detection technology both in the military (e.g., land mines) and civilian (Homeland security) arenas. The Photonics Center FTDA was given to Björn Reinhard (Chemistry), PI, and Luca DalNegro (Electrical and Computer Engineering), co-PI, for their project “Photonic-Plasmonic Crystals for Explosive Detection,” which can potentially meet this need. The goal of their research is to develop a lightweight “photonic nose” that can detect traces of explosive vapor.
At the heart of this technology are two dimensional arrays of gold nanoparticles, which support photonic-plasmonic resonances with extremely narrow line shapes in extinction and scattering. The gold particle arrays form two dimensional photonic-plasmonic crystals (PPCs) whose resonances are tunable through the array morphology. For a fixed geometry the resonance wavelength depends sensitively on the dielectric permittivity ε of its environment. The sharpness of the optical resonances (predicted value < 1meV)1 facilitates the detection of even small shifts in ε that arise from changes in the chemical environment of the PPCs. The researchers will utilize the extraordinary sensitivity of the PPCs for the specific detection of explosives vapors.