The Coe Group has been developing applications of Plasmonics for Chemistry, Physics, and Biology. Our biggest application involves placing inhalable dust particles into the holes of a plasmonic metal mesh in order to record scatter-free infrared absorption spectra of subwavelenth size particles. This has led to a program in Environmental Chemistry to identify the chemical components of the dust that is breathed into people’s lungs. We are creating a library of single particle dust spectra, as well as calibrating materials that are known to be in dust. In trying to apply plasmonics to the detection of cancerous liver tissues, we have also joined a team and started a program that develops spectroscopic probes for detecting cancer in surgically resected tissues.
What is Plasmonics? Plasmonics largely consists of the use of subwavelength metal structures to manipulate light on the subwavelength scale. A plasmon is a quantum unit of a plasma oscillation which is most readily available through the conducting electron density of metals. Plasmonics often concerns the interaction of light with the conducting electron density of metals making surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs, mixed states of light and waves on the conducting electron density), although plasmons can be excited in other ways such as with electron beams. Applications include waveguides optical switching, enhanced spectroscopy of subwavelength systems (SERS, TERS, SEIRA), subwavelength optics and apertures, improved efficiency of LEDs, faster chips, cancer therapies, and chemical and biological sensors. We have some movies of plasmonic phenomena at the tabs for “Movie Introduction to Plasmonics” and “Olympic Plasmonics”