UTSA, UT Austin lead national nanoscience team
The University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Texas at Austin are two of five research universities in a nationwide consortium awarded $1.4 M from the NSF. The Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) grant will enable researchers to explore ways to concentrate optical energy on a scale of nanometers and develop means to control optical energy for applications in nanoscience and nanotechnology. UTSA's nanoscience research focus involves fabrication and optical characterization of nanostructures for energy concentration in the infrared and visible spectral ranges. The grant will help purchase an atomic layer disposition system that will deposit materials by atomic layers. The equipment will allow for manipulation of materials at a nanoscale level. Areas that could benefit from focusing small measures of light include the medical field where higher resolution imaging could be used on living tissues to detect diseases. The semiconductor industry could also benefit by making chips smaller through the use of light at a nanoscale level. According to Gennady Shvets, UT Austin associate professor of physics and grant co-principal investigator, the interdisciplinary nature of the work in nanoplasmonics requires collaboration between scientists and engineers, particularly synthetic chemists, material scientists, and experts in modeling, simulation and optics. "Our group will be conducting experiments and theoretical modeling on a mid-infrared 'superlens', a novel device capable of resolving nanoscale features", said Shvets. "We hope that by the end of the project we can integrate the superlens with a nanofluidic delivery system and image various biological objects in their natural water environment".