Multiscale Thin Metal Films for Enhanced Sensing and Light Harvesting Applications – Energy Transfer and Charge Transport Studies
Miriam Deutsch, Physics 
Research interests in the Deutsch Group involve understanding the fundamental optical and electronic properties of metals exhibiting structure on a hierarchy of length scales, ranging from several nanometers to optical (micrometer) scales. Metal films with multi-scale structural roughness have been gaining newfound interest in recent years with applications that include substrates with plasmon-mediated nonlinear optical response for sensing applications and increasing solar cell efficiencies using highly scattering thin metal films. Research efforts are currently addressing energy transfer (optical excitations) and charge transport through chemically deposited thin silver films. Better understanding of energetic processes in these materials will allow Deutschoptimization of their use as targeted sensors for biological or chemical contaminants, as well as their implementation in efficient light harvesting devices.

An undergraduate student will have the opportunity to learn novel materials fabrication and characterization techniques, as well gain experience in optics experimental research. The student will become familiar with high resolution probe and surface analysis techniques such as SEM, XPS, and AFM. In particular, optical microscopy is used to spectroscopically probe small domains in the films. The student will gain experience in setting up combined high-resolution optical microscopy/spectroscopy experiments, and operating standard spectroscopy apparatus. In addition, a recent installation of a near-field scanning optical microscope (NSOM) equipped with white light fiber laser excitation allows us to conduct nano-scale spectroscopic characterization of the fabricated materials.