Duke Physics Colloquium: Improving on One of Mankind's Greatest Inventions: Fixing Nitrogen and the Advent of Plasmonic Photocatalysis
"Improving on One of Mankind's Greatest Inventions: Fixing Nitrogen and the Advent of Plasmonic Photocatalysis" - What is mankind's greatest invention? Many candidates come to mind, but perhaps the greatest received two separate Nobel prizes: fixing nitrogen. After exploring the history and importance of an invention that has transformed the modern era, research into a new way for breaking strong molecular bonds will be introduced. Plasmonics involves the strong interaction of light with free electrons in metallic structures. Localized surface plasmon resonances in metallic nanostructures exhibit locally concentrated photon densities and electromagnetic fields while photo-generating hot surfaces and hot carriers. These attributes have been used to accelerate photon emission rates, enhance spectroscopic signatures, cure cancer, and catalyze chemical reactions. Most research in nano-plasmonics has focused on applications in the visible and near infrared using gold and silver, but growing interest in ultraviolet nano-plasmonics for enhanced sensing and efficient photocatalysis requires new materials. This talk will introduce our work on UV nano-plasmonics, searching the periodic table for appropriate metals, patterning them into size- and shape-controlled nanostructures, and using them to catalyze chemical reactions, including nitrogen splitting. Faculty hosts: Mark Kruse, Warren Warren. Refreshments will be available before the event in room 130.