In molecular materials, intermolecular coupling and nanometer scale ordering of the molecules determine much of the physical properties and chemical or biological functionality. Optical spectroscopy offers an experimental route towards measuring these interactions. However, the fundamental nanometer length scales of molecular ordering have been challenging to measure and image as they are orders of magnitude smaller than the size of objects that can be resolved by conventional optical microscopes. In the Muller lab, we are working to develop new methods of infrared (IR) nano-spectroscopy and nano-imaging to understand these molecular interactions. We use nanoscale metallic probes to localize laser light to a 10 nm radius and enhance the light-matter interaction by up to 5 orders of magnitude. Combining this with vibrational spectroscopy, we’re able to determine chemical identity and characterize the local chemical environment on the length scale of only a few molecules with nearly single-molecule sensitivity.
Our primary efforts center around developing new methods in IR nanospectroscopy and applying these methods to understanding functional molecular materials and large molecule systems such as proteins. Students in my lab will develop skills in laser spectroscopy and nano-imaging. Specific projects include building new laser components, building optical detection systems, and imaging functional molecular materials. For further information about the Muller research lab or to discuss specific projects planned for this summer please contact Prof. Muller.
Generally, students should have completed CHEM101/102 or CHEM111 or PHYS 111/112 prior to the start of the semster.