Plasmonics for Catalysis: SERS for Mechanistic Studies, Plasmons for Enhanced Catalytic Activity

High vacuum system for ultra-high purification of chemicals.

Developing clean, sustainable energy may arguably be the greatest problem facing humanity in the 21st century.  While this problem has brought about great attention to developing solar energy, another attractive solution is to convert and store solar energy in the form of chemical bonds through catalysis.  In particular we are interested in the conversion of CO2 to hydrocarbons through photoelectrochemical reduction.  We believe that in order to successfully develop catalysts that readily convert the abundant energy of the sun into useful hydrocarbons, a fundamental understanding of the chemical mechanism in CO2 reduction must be understood.  Our lab focuses on coupling electrochemistry and spectroscopy to elucidate important mechanistic information about CO2 reduction in catalytic systems.  We are currently interested in exploration of generation and stability of the CO2 anion radical which is believed to be the first step in CO2 reduction in catalytic systems. There has recently been developing interest in using plasmonics in energy science.  Whether it’s using a plasmon to drive solar energy conversion, or photocatalytic enhancement due to plasmon resonance, this is a new field with potentially interesting discoveries.

Ryan Hackler, 4th year graduate student joint with Stair

Recent Publications:
“Displacement of Hexanol by the Hexanoic Acid Over-oxidation Product in Alcohol Oxidation on a Model Supported Palladium Nanoparticle Catalyst,” A. Buchbinder, N. Ray, J.Lu, R. P. Van Duyne, P. C. Stair, E. Weitz, and F. Geiger, JACS. (2011).



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  • Professor Richard Van Duyne

    Additional Information

    Discoverer of Surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (1977)
    Inventor of Nanosphere Lithography (1995) & Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance Spectroscopy (2000)

  • Group Members

    Professor Van Duyne has, in his career to date, advised a total of 87 graduate students and 47 postdoctoral fellows. Every year, Professor Van Duyne gives a talk to introduce new graduate students to our research. The 2017 seminar slides are available here.

  • News

    Professor Van Duyne was recently named a Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellow by the U.S. Department of Defense to conduct "high risk, high payoff" basic scientific research. Read more here