Recent work by David Masiello and coworkers published in Nature Photonics

masiello_nature-photonics_squareRecent work by Associate Professor David Masiello and colleagues was highlighted in a November 7 article in Nature Photonics. The research was also highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News and in a News & Views feature article in Nature Photonics.

Measurement of the two distinct components—scattering and absorption—of a single nanoscale object’s optical extinction provides fundamentally important and complementary information on how that object processes light: either scattering it back to the far-field or converting it into internal excitation. Today, various techniques exist to measure the scattering from individual nanoscale objects, all relying on the detection of scattered photons in regions of zero background. Measuring their absorption, however, is much more complicated due to the fundamental inability to detect extremely small reductions in transmission over statistical fluctuations in the number of photons. This means that the spectroscopic signature of the vast majority of molecules—specifically, those that are transformed into dark states through photoreactions—is difficult to access.

To overcome this challenge, researchers in the Masiello group and the Goldsmith group at the University of Wisconsin–Madison devised a new experimental route to measure the absorption spectra of individual, nonemissive nanoscale objects by photothermal contrast in an optical microresonator cavity.

Photothermal spectroscopies function by inferring an object’s absorption from the localized temperature increase and resulting refractive index inhomogeneity produced by the excited object’s nonradiative decay. In their work, the team coupled individual plasmonic nanorods to an ultrahigh-quality optical microresonator cavity and succeeded in determining the nanorod’s absorption spectrum by monitoring the temperature-dependent attometer shifts in the resonance frequency of microresonator’s whispering gallery modes. These exceedingly small but detectable resonance shifts correspond to temperature increases of ~100 nK (measured at room temperature!), making their absorption spectrometer simultaneously one of the world’s best thermometers. Suprisingly, the nanorod’s absorption spectrum revealed a dense array of sharp Fano interferences arising from its interaction with the whispering gallery modes of the microresonator, allowing the team to deeply explore the hybridization of plasmonic and photonic cavity modes.

This collaborative effort brought together the creativity and talents of several graduate students and postdocs in multiple departments between the two institutions. The results were achieved following years of hard work involving both theorists and experimentalists. Future directions will explore the feasibility of this system to serve as a platform for studying quantum physics at room temperature.

To learn more about Professor Masiello and his research, visit his faculty page and research group website.

David Masiello promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

Masiello 2016The Department of Chemistry congratulates Assistant Professor David Masiello on his promotion to associate professor with tenure, effective September 16, 2016.

Research in Masiello group is aimed at building a theoretical understanding of nanoscale optical, magnetic, electronic, and thermal phenomena mediated by surface plasmons. Of particular interest is the fundamental science of light manipulation, especially in metamaterials capable of directing light towards desired pathways, such as optical-frequency magnetism, spatially-directed thermal patterning, room-temperature quantum information processing, and enhanced solar-energy conversion. Theoretical approaches from the Masiello group are currently being used by the experimental community to direct the design of advanced materials with unprecedented functionalities.

To learn more about Professor Masiello’s research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

David Masiello receives Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Masiello 2016David Masiello, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). President Barack Obama named 106 researchers as recipients of the award, granting them the U.S. government’s highest award for scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Masiello received the award “for his cutting-edge research in the emerging field of theoretical molecular nanophotonics, and for his comprehensive educational and outreach programs including an exemplary focus on enhancing the scientific communication abilities of young researchers.” Masiello’s research group focuses on the development of novel, rigorous and computationally tractable theoretical descriptions of the structure and dynamics of nanoscale systems, as well as their interactions with the electromagnetic field.

PECASE recognizes scientists and engineers who show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge. Winners demonstrate the ability to broadly advance fundamental research and help the United States maintain its position as a leading producer of scientists and engineers. Masiello was one of three UW faculty members to receive this honor.

“The awardees are outstanding scientists and engineers,” said NSF Director France Córdova. “They are teacher-scholars who are developing new generations of outstanding scientists and engineers and ensuring this nation is a leading innovator. I applaud these recipients for their leadership, distinguished teaching and commitment to public outreach.”

To learn more about Professor Masiello and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group site.

David Masiello selected for the ACS Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in Computational Chemistry

MasielloThe Computers in Chemistry Division of the American
Chemical Society has awarded Assistant Professor David Masiello the ACS COMP OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. His work will be presented at the 2013 Fall ACS meeting in Indianapolis and is titled “Elucidating the
Signatures of Fano Interferences in Electron Energy-Loss and Cathodoluminescence Spectroscopies via Multiscale Electrodynamics Simulations”. The award is presented to up to four outstanding tenure-track junior faculty members based on the novelty and importance of their research. The award aims to assist new faculty members in gaining visibility within the computers in chemistry community.

To learn more about Professor Masiello and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group site.

David Masiello receives NSF CAREER Award

Assistant Professor David Masiello has received a CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) Award from the National Science Foundation. The NSF CAREER Program is a Foundation-wide program that “offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” Professor Masiello received the award for his research proposal, “CAREER: Elucidating Light-Matter Interactions on the Nanoscale Using Quantum Many-Body Theory and the Electrodynamics of Swift Electrons.” In particular, the award funds research that will:

1) Establish a first-principles, multiscale theoretical framework capable of rigorously describing the severe deformations of a molecule’s electronic structure when coupled strongly to a plasmonic environment, described by continuum electrodynamics;

2) Numerically implement the electrodynamics of a swift electron and its interactions with a complex nanoscopic environment to characterize the relationship between electron and photon-driven plasmonic excitations and their associated nanophotonic properties;

3) Correlate electron- and photon-excitation sources to learn about the redistribution of energy between near- and far-field and nanoconfined heat in plasmonically active metal nanostructures in the presence of quantum emitters/absorbers, with an emphasis on the achieving high spatial and spectral resolution.

For more information about this NSF CAREER Award, please visit the award website.

For more information about Professor Masiello and his research, please visit his faculty page or his research group website.

David Masiello to join faculty as Assistant Professor

We are delighted to welcome Dr. David Masiello to the Department of Chemistry. Dr. Masiello specializes in the many-body theory of atomic and molecular systems and their interaction with the electromagnetic field.

Dr. Masiello received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Florida, earning his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics in 2004 with Professor Yngve Ohrn. After two years as a postdoctoral research associate with Professor William Reinhardt here at the University of Washington, Dr. Masiello moved to Northwestern University to study the first-principles theory of molecular spectroscopy and optics on the nanoscale with Professor George Schatz. Dr. Masiello is currently serving as a lecturer at the University of Washington, and will be teaching physical chemistry this spring quarter.

Dr. Masiello will begin his research program here in June, with a focus on the fundamental theory of a variety of plasmon-enhanced molecular processes from linear and nonlinear spectroscopy and molecular sensing, to charge transfer in condensed-phase environments with application to enhanced solar energy conversion. For more information, please visit his  faculty page or his research group website, or contact him directly via email at