“What is it between molecules and particles?” is a leading question for our generation of scientists that can best be addressed in interdisciplinary approaches. While we have come a long way to understanding covalent attachments in the synthesis of molecules, the control of non-bonded interactions is now a defining need for the preparation of new materials based on the association of individual molecules or particles. Our research goals are to make in collaboration with other researchers new useful materials for light-harvesting, next generation optoelectrical devices, fluorescent sensors and molecular probes. In order to achieve these goals, we develop new applications of non-bonded interactions to both provide the needed connectivity between components, but also to improve the properties of the end devices. Current projects involve increasing efficiency of fluorophores through encapsulation in host-guest complexes; attaching fluorophores to gold nanoparticles to harness the energy of their plasmon hot-spots; and developing new non-bonding interactions to act as mortar to assemble nanoparticles in a deterministic manner. The bulk of our research techniques involve organic synthesis of the requisite components, characterizing by NMR spectroscopy, then studying the fluorescent properties ourselves and collaborating with physics or physical chemistry groups for the more involved measurements.
Ronald L. Halterman
Professor and Department Chair
Self-Assembly of Fluorophores to Nanoparticles
Research keywords: organic synthesis; nanotechnology; non-covalent self-assembly