OSE Seminar by Dr. Alessandro Alabastri on Heat dissipation in nanostructures: from plasmonic particles to solar powered distillation devices

Departmental News

Dr. Alessandro Alabastri  seminar image

Posted: February 19, 2018

Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 

Time:  11:00 AM to Noon

Location:  CHTM, Rm. 101 

Map to CHTM: 


Parking passes are available at the receptionist's desk.


Nanosized structures have been study extensively in the last decades for a wide range of applications: from drug delivery to tissue engineering, from manufacturing to electronics. One aspect of nanostructures properties that has fostered research so far is their peculiar interaction with electromagnetic fields in a broad spectrum, from the THz to the UV.  In particular, metallic nanoparticles (NPs) are capable to couple an incident radiation, such as sunlight, into bounded electronic oscillations, called plasmons, thus effectively squeezing the electromagnetic energy in narrow regions depending on the particle geometry. Consequences of such energy localization include large electric fields and field gradients at the NPs surface which can be exploited, for instance, to stimulate energy transitions in nearby molecules. The energy stored in the electronic oscillations is then either re-irradiated by the nanoparticle to the surrounding or transferred to the particle electronic distribution, thus generating hot carriers which, upon relaxation, will increase the temperature of the nanoparticle lattice. The seminar will provide an overview of the fundamentals and applications of plasmonics with particular focus on the role played by metallic nanostructures as efficient light-to-heat converters. In particular it will be explained how, through proper design, it is possible to realize plasmonic systems which exploit metals temperature dependent non-linearities to obtain unexpected optical responses. Finally, it will be shown how nanoscale heaters can find application in water purification systems as enhancers of liquid-vapor phase transition rates and the case of Nanophotonics Enabled Solar Membrane Distillation (NESMD) will be presented.

Speaker's Biography: 

Alessandro Alabastri received his BSc and MSc in Engineering Physics from Politecnico di Milano in 2007 and 2009 respectively specializing in Nano-Optics and Photonics. In 2009 he was Visiting Student in the Plasmonics and Metamaterials Group at the Technical University of Denmark working on optical characterization of metamaterials. In 2014, he obtained the PhD in Nanosciences from the Italian Institute of Technology and University of Genoa working on computational modeling of plasmonic structures. In 2015, he was Visiting Researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the Molecular Foundry for the investigation of plasmonic interference based devices. Later in 2015 he joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University as Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Nordlander’s group.  In 2016, he was appointed NEWT Postdoctoral Leadership Fellow at Rice University working on theoretical nanophotonics and solar distillation devices.