PhD in Solar to chemical energy conversion with plasmonic super-absorbers of light RMIT University, Applied Chemistry, NanoSmart Lab RMIT City Campus PhD Project Australia

PhD - Solar to chemical energy conversion with plasmonic super-absorbers of light

Work type: Casual/Sessional, Casual/Sessional (Short Term), Full time - Continuing/Permanent, Full time - Fixed term/Contract, Part time - Continuing/Permanent, Part time - Fixed term/Contract

Categories: Sciences

Applied Chemistry, NanoSmart Lab RMIT City Campus PhD Project


Project Description


Imagine a future chemical industry where chemical reactions are powered directly by sunlight!
[1]. Using a combination of cutting-edge experimental [2] and theoretical approaches [3], the
successful candidate will create nanostructures that are capable of absorbing nearly all incident
visible light (super-absorbers), study their optical properties, and develop applications of these
materials for the synthesis of high-value added fine chemicals.


Super-absorbers of light [2,4] are a class of materials that exploit the concept of optical
impedance matching and ideally absorb all incident radiation, irrespective of its wavelength and
angle of incidence. The absorbed energy is typically converted to heat, but under specific
conditions, the energy can also be transformed into other more ‘useful’ forms for applications in
photovoltaics, biological sensing, photo-detectors and also in photochemistry: the conversion of
radiant energy into chemical potential energy.


One approach to realize these materials focuses on using metal nanostructures capable of
interacting very strongly with light [2-4]. These strong interactions result from the excitation of
surface plasmons: light-driven oscillations of electrons in the metal nanostructures. These
plasmons can result in the emission of energetic (hot) electrons [5], which may be harvested for
driving chemical reduction and oxidation reactions. This results in a net transduction of solar-to-
chemical energy. The overall process is initiated by the absorption of light and, consequently, it
is anticipated that plasmonic super-absorbers will be a class of highly efficient converters.


The plasmonic super-absorbers will be prepared by a combination of clean-room and chemical
synthesis techniques. The structural properties of the absorbers will be characterized using a
suite of techniques, such as electron microscopy (SEM & TEM), X-ray diffraction and atomic
force microscopy. The optical properties will be characterized by means of micro-spectrometry
in the visible and near-infrared. Importantly, the application of the developed super-absorbers in
photo-chemistry will be assessed by means of organic reaction discovery, for which techniques
such as NMR, chromatography and other spectroscopic capabilities are important. The expected
outcome of this project, funded by an ARC Future Fellowship, is a detailed mechanistic
understanding of the role of nanoparticle size, geometry and composition on their optical and
photochemical properties.


Contact and Application Details: To discuss this project further please contact:
Associate Professor Daniel Gomez (


All applications must be submitted via the link below;


**Only applications submitted via the link will be considered**


[1]. D. M. Schultz and T. P. Yoon, Science 343, 1239176 (2014)
[2]. C. Ng, J. Cadusch, S. Dligatch, A. Roberts, T. J. Davis, P. Mulvaney, and D. E. Gomez,
ACS Nano 10, 4704 (2016).
[3] T. J. Davis and D. E. Gomez, Reviews of Modern Physics 89, 011003 (2017)
[4] C. Ng, L. W. Yap, A. R. W. Cheng, and D. E. Gomez, Adv. Funct. Mater 27,
10.1002/adfm.201604080 (2016)
[5]. M. L. Brongersma, N. J. Halas, and P. Nordlander Nature Nanotechnology 10, 25 (2015)


Application close: 26 May 2018 11:55 PM AUS Eastern Standard Time

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