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Liu Awarded NSF Grant for Chiral Molecules

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MIE/ECE Associate Professor Yongmin Liu was awarded a $385K NSF grant for the “Chiroptical Sensing and Sorting by Structured Materials and Structured Light”.


Abstract Source: NSF

Chiral molecules are asymmetric molecules with left- and right-handed mirror images (called enantiomers) that cannot be superimposed. The principal investigator will use rationally engineered metallic and dielectric nanostructures and structured light beams to substantially enhance sensing and sorting of chiral molecules via an entirely optical approach. This could lead to vastly improved particle and single molecule level detection over current methods. The development of a new class of novel chiral sensors can significantly improve the limit of detection and sorting of biomarkers of diseases and/or single molecules.

The proposed development includes, 1) use of chirality of optical fields to synergistically sense and manipulate chiral molecules, 2) fabrication of planar nanostructures using precision lithography techniques to create unique effects, 3) Potential use of nanocubes yielding highly unique sensing capability for sorting of chiral molecules as well as preferentially trapping molecules by chirality and 4) use of nanostructures for the development of ultrasensitive chiroptical spectroscopy using state of the art micro-/nano-manipulation techniques can lead to the development of new class of sensors for molecular sorting.

Related Faculty: Yongmin Liu

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering