FIP Seminar: Co-hosted with Chemistry, MEMS & MatSci 'Plasmonic Photosynthesis'

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Wed, 04/03/2019 - 12:00 to 13:00

Dr. Prashant Jain


Dr. Prashant K. Jain, Richard and Margaret Romano Professorial Scholar, I.C. Gunsalus Scholar, Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Mimicking plant photosynthesis requires a synthetic photocatalyst that absorbs sunlight and uses that energy efficiently to convert CO2 into energy-dense hydrocarbons. My talk will make the case that noble metal nanostructures, which exhibit collective free electron resonances called plasmons, may be well-suited to this task. Not only do plasmonic nanoparticles of Au, Ag, and Cu absorb visible light efficiently, this strong-light-matter interaction can be paired with their ability to activate CO2. We have had preliminary success with plasmonic Au catalysts, which drive kinetically challenging multi-electron multi-proton reduction of CO2 to hydrocarbons under visible-light excitation. The product selectivity is dependent on the nature of the exciting light, which hints that a novel phenomenon is at work. In order to understand the light-driven pathway for CO2 reduction, we have spectroscopically monitored the reaction on a single plasmonic nanoparticle. The mechanism by which plasmonic excitation activates CO2 is beginning to be understood.  

Prashant Jain grew up in Bombay, where he completed his undergraduate education. He obtained his PhD working with M. A. El-Sayed at Georgia Tech, following which he was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard. After a Miller Fellowship at UC Berkeley, he joined the UIUC faculty, where he is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and the Materials Research Lab, the Richard and Margaret Romano Professorial Scholar, and the Associate Head of Major Projects. Prashant’s research is centered on the understanding and control of light-matter interactions on the nanoscale. He teaches graduate & undergraduate physical chemistry and is the lead developer of nanoDDSCAT, a toolkit for computational design of light-matter interactions.