Sylvanus Lee (PhD ’12) Wins at OSA Conference


Sylvanus Lee (PhD '12)

Sylvanus Lee (PhD ’12)

In recent years, nanofabrication has caught the attention of many industries. Computer engineers look at how the structures can open the door to create super high-density memory chips and microprocessors. Nanofabrication has also been applied to medical, military, and aerospace research.

At Boston University, Sylvanus Lee (PhD ’12), who is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering, and Professor Luca Dal Negro (ECE) have focused their nanofabrication research on how to control the color response of metal surfaces on nanostructures in ways that aren’t possible with traditional techniques.

In October, Lee brought their paper, “Isotropic Structural Color of Nanostructured Metal Surfaces,” to the Optical Society of America (OSA) Frontiers in Optics/Laser Science conference in San Jose, Calif. Attendees were very interested in their publication, and Lee ultimately took home the Emil Wolf Outstanding Student Paper Competition award.

“We’ve spent many long hours on this project, and the work has been challenging,” said Lee. “It was great to see that pay off at the conference.”

Read the paper in Optics Express.

Associate Professor Luca Dal Negro (ECE)

Associate Professor Luca Dal Negro (ECE)

Lee and Dal Negro found that pinwheel nanoparticle arrays can allow for intense coloration enhanced by plasmonic resonance. Dal Negro said that much of the research was inspired by the everyday iridescent colors displayed in nature – from those in butterfly wings to peacock feathers.

Their findings can be applied to many research areas such as optical technology, security and energy. Some examples include creating security holograms or enabling bright displays to be engineered in flat screen televisions or omnidirectional mirrors.

Dal Negro, who is also Lee’s advisor at BU, describes his student as “highly motivated” and said that Lee displays “a true passion for pushing the limits of nanofabrication.”

“He truly enjoys fabricating and controlling complex nanoscale structures, and he has developed a unique ability at doing it both precisely and efficiently,” said Dal Negro.

Lee is originally from Hong Kong and also worked in California but decided to attend BU because of the exciting research opportunities in the area and the different experience of living on the east coast.

“It’s a different academic experience I’ve had compared to where I come from,” said Lee. “I really enjoy working with Professor Dal Negro because at a certain point, you know you’ll get results.”

-Rachel Harrington (