Designing Plasmonic Nanoparticle Assemblies for Active Nanoscale Temperature Control by Exploiting Near- and Far-Field Coupling

Project Personnel

David Masiello

Principal Investigator

University of Washington


Katherine Willets

Temple University


Stephan Link

William Marsh Rice University


Funding Divisions

Division of Chemistry (CHE)

Our team is developing methods to theoretically design and experimentally realize a new class of periodic 1D and 2D thermal metamaterials. Thermal energy, or heat, flows naturally from hot to cold, making it difficult to create localized thermal “hot spots” even when heat is applied to a single location. Said differently, the degree of spatial correlation between the heat power supplied and the temperature change that it induces is likely to be small. Touching a hot pan’s lid provides a simple and all too familiar example of this effect. As a material’s size is reduced to 10-100s of nanometers, or about 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, depositing and maintaining thermal energy within a small region of space becomes even more challenging. Yet, the ability to control heat flow and thus temperature at both nanoscale (<100 nm) and micron-scale (~1-100 μm) dimensions has important implications for applications ranging from big data to nanomedicine. 

This research project aims to overcome thermal diffusion and achieve long-range global control of spatially-nonuniform heating, using only light to actively control the thermal profile of the materials. Beyond impacting a wide variety of applications, the project will facilitate the interdisciplinary training of students and postdoctoral researchers through student exchange between the three research groups, organization of two new scientific meetings, and the design of a nanotechnology summer camp for middle school students with focus on photothermal materials.