CaSTL - NSC Second Annual Symposium 2018 Attendees


Second Annual CaSTL - NSC Meeting Attendees

(listed in alphabetical order by position)



CaSTL Director / UC, Irvine

 V. Ara Apkarian is a Professor of Chemical Physics and Director of the NSF Center for Chemical Innovation in Chemistry at the Space-Time Limit (CaSTL). The principal focus of his research combines experiment and theory on photophysics, spectroscopy, molecular and quantum dynamics in condensed matter. His current research combines ultrafast methods with plasmonics and microscopy (NLO, AFM, STM) to interrogate individual molecules in real-time and with atomic spatial resolution.


CaSTL PI / UC, Irvine

 Nien-Hui Ge is a Professor of Chemistry with a Ph.D. from the UC Berkeley in the group of Prof. Charles Harris in 1998, focusing on two-photoemission spectroscopy of metal-dielectric interfaces.  During her post-doctoral research in the Robin Hochstrasser group at the University of Pennsylvania, she was involved with the development of coherent two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy. Her current research focuses on the study of chemical, biological, and material processes using a combination of ultrafast spectroscopy and microscopy (2D IR, SFG, s-SNOM) and plasmonics.




CaSTL PI / UC, Irvine


 Wilson Ho is a Donald Bren Professor of Physics & Astronomy and of Chemistry. After receiving his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pennsylvania, he spent a year as a member of the technical staff at the AT&T Bell Laboratories and was on the faculty at Cornell University.  His group has maintained a long tradition of developing new instrumentation for probing molecules by adsorbing them on solid surfaces. Research highlights from the study of molecular ensembles include the detection of off-specular, non-dipole active molecular vibrations in electron energy loss spectroscopy, the mechanistic understanding of surface photochemistry and molecular kinetics and dynamics from millisecond to femtosecond. In the last 25 years, his group has focused on advancing the field of single molecule chemistry with homemade scanning tunneling microscopes that enabled the demonstration of inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy and microscopy, the attainment of sub-Ångström resolution in optical phenomena, the visualization of chemical bonds by the inelastic tunneling probe, and the realization of coherent chemistry driven by vibrations in the time domain with joint Å-fs resolution.



NSC PI / University of Jyväskylä

Karoliina Honkala is a professor of computational nanocatalysis and the vice head of the department of Chemistry. She holds MSc degree in theoretical physics and PhD degree in physical chemistry from University of Oulu, Finland. She joined JYU 2005, after a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship in Technical University of Denmark. Her research focuses mainly on chemical properties of metal and oxide surfaces and supported nanostructure, heterogeneous catalysis and lately also on electrocatalysis employing density functional theory calculations, Kinetic Monte Carlo and microkinetic simulations. Her current research addresses in particular activity and selectivity in catalytic transformations for industrially relevant processes and catalyst-support interactions for oxide supported metal nanostructures.


CaSTL PI / Penn State University

 Lasse Jensen is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at The Pennsylvania State University. He received his Ph.D. in 2004 from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands and from 2004 to 2007, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the group of George C. Schatz. His research interest focuses on developing theoretical methods to understand optical spectroscopy of Nanosystems.





NSC PI / University of Jyväskylä

Andreas Johansson is leading the NanoCarbon Lab Group at Nanoscience Center in a University Researcher position shared between the Departments of Chemistry and Physics at University of Jyväskylä. He holds an M.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering from University of Uppsala and M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics from Weizmann Institute of Science. He joined University of Jyväskylä in 2006. Research interests are in new fabrication methods to harness properties specific of low-dimensional structures with nanometer feature sizes. Especially two-dimensional, layered materials, or so called van der Waals structures, have been a recurring topic, with current focus on graphene.









NSC PI / University of Jyväskylä

Tanja Lahtinen is a University Lecturer and Vice Head and Pedagogical Head of Department of Chemistry at JYU. She completed her PhD in 2003 in JYU, and had two research visits in Germany (Münster 1999 and Bonn 2000), after which she worked as a Senior Assistant and as Senior Researcher in JYU. In 2009 she finished pedagogical training. In 2012 she was nominated as University Lecturer and after nomination she has been an independent researcher. In 2016 she was nominated as Adjunct Professor and currently supervising two PhD students. Her research has been published in more than 30 peer-reviewed international publications. Currently her main research interest is the synthesis and characterization of metal nanoclusters and their derivatives. Monolayer protected gold nanoclusters have received a significant attention due to their well-defined atomic structure, which is important for fundamental studies of nanoparticles’ properties and their functionalization.


CaSTL PI / UC, Irvine

 Matt Law is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the UC Berkeley in 2005, where he investigated the synthesis, properties, and device applications of oxide nanowires under the direction of Peidong Yang. Matt’s research interests are driven by the challenges of energy conversion and storage and the conservation of global biodiversity. His research group focuses on the development of new materials and devices for solar energy conversion, including nanostructured solar cells, earth-abundant thin-film photovoltaics, solar fuels production, and Plasmon-driven photocatalysis.



CaSTL Pathways Program / Albany State University

Uzoma Okafor is an assistant professor of Chemistry and Forensic Science and serves as co-lead facilitator for the CaSTL-ASU Pathways Program at Albany State University. His research experience involved various collaborations with researchers both in Nigeria and the US Universities, which includes both experimentation and concept on various topics in proteins, drugs metabolism and toxicology.






CaSTL PI / University of Pittsburgh

Hrvoje Petek is the R. K. Mellon Chair of Physics and Astronomy and Professor of Chemistry. He was born in Yugoslavia and received his degrees in Chemistry from MIT (BS; 1980) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D.; 1985). Since 2006, he has been the Editor-in-Chief of Progress in Surface Science. His research interests span ultrafast spectroscopy and microscopy of solid-state materials and surfaces. He pioneered coherent multiphoton photoemission as a method for investigating coherent electron dynamics on the femtosecond temporal and nanometer spatial scales at semiconductor and metal surfaces.



NSC PI / University of Jyväskylä

 Mika Pettersson is the Head of the Department of Chemistry at University of Jyväskylä. His current research is focused on spectroscopy and imaging of nano-objects. Frequency- and time-resolved techniques as well as imaging and microscopy are used. Currently, the two main research targets are graphene and ligand-protected gold nanoclusters. In graphene research, we are focusing on irradiation-induced modification and patterning of graphene aiming at controlling electronic, optical, mechanical and chemical properties. In gold cluster research, we are interested in understanding how the electronic and ligand layer properties change and how plasmonic behavior and inter-cluster coupling develop as a function of size and structure.





CaSTL PI / UC, Irvine

 Eric Potma is an Associate Professor who was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received his Masters at the University of Groningen in 1996. While working in the ultrafast spectroscopy group of Prof. Douwe Wiersma, Eric focused his research on the development of laser sources for microscopy and the application of nonlinear methods to optical imaging. In 2001, Potma joined the group of Prof. Sunney Xie at Harvard University as a postdoctoral fellow. During this time, he has been involved with projects on synchronizing mode-locked lasers, visualizing lipid bilayers with CARS microscopy and vibrational imaging of tissue in vivo at video rate. His group is focusing on the characterization of nanostructures and complex biological materials with the aid of new optical imaging techniques.


CaSTL PI / Northwestern University

George C. Schatz is Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry and of Chemical and Biological Engineering.  He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry at Clarkson University and a Ph. D at Caltech.  He was a postdoc at MIT and has been at Northwestern since 1976. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he has been Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Physical Chemistry since 2005.  He is a theoretician who studies the optical, structural and thermal properties of nanomaterials, including plasmonic nanoparticles, DNA and peptide nanostructures, and carbon-based materials.  His contributions to optical properties include the development of electronic structure theories for metal cluster excited states, and coupled electronic structure/continuum mechanics theories for SERS.


CaSTL PI / University of Utah

 The Shumaker-Parry group studies structural design and nanoparticle assembly for control of the optical properties of plasmonic nanomaterials. The research approaches focus on the fabrication and optical characterization of well-defined, irregularly-shaped metal nanostructures and the development of surface functionalization methods to build multi-particle assemblies. The long-term goal is to use the fundamental understanding of the correlation of optical properties with metal structure shape and assembly as a basis for tailoring the optical properties. Manipulation of electric and magnetic fields at the nanoscale using these plasmonic architectures, including control of the chiro-optical activity, is of particular interest. Within CaSTL, the group works with other investigators to probe chemical processes at the space-time limit by combining plasmonic antennas with ultrafast spectroscopy. The goal is to use structural control of the plasmonic materials in order to manipulate fields to define probe volumes and enhance signals to enable nanoscale and single molecule spectroscopy and microscopy measurements. Other scientific research interests include studying supported metal nanoparticles for applications in catalysis and the development of biological and chemical assays based on surface plasmon resonance microscopy.


NSC PI / University of Jyväskylä


Jussi Toppari is an Associate Professor in Department of Physics and NSC. He completed his PhD in 2003 in JYU, after which he worked as a senior assistant in NSC and later become a leader of the Molecular Electronics and Plasmonics-group via Academy Research Fellow position. During 2011 he worked as a visiting professor in Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology, Jena, Germany. Research interests involve utilizing self-assembled DNA structures in fabrication of electrical and optical/plasmonic nanodevices. Currently, his main research interest is the strong coupling between molecules and confined light, i.e. surface plasmons or cavity photons. This limit brings about hybrid light-molecule-states possessing new fundamental properties, which enables things like fascinating new ways for controlling chemistry.


CaSTL PI / Northwestern University


 Rick Van Duyne is the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry who discovered surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), invented Nanosphere lithography (NSL), and developed ultrasensitive Nanosensors based on localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) spectroscopy. His research interests include SERS, LSPR spectroscopy, plasmonics, nanoscale biosensors, atomic layer deposition (ALD), ultrahigh vacuum tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (UHV-TERS), electrochemical tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (EC-TERS) and surface-enhanced femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy (SE-FSRS). He has been elected a Fellow/Member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), in addition to others. 


CaSTL PI  / UC, Irvine


H. Kumar Wickramasinghe is a Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Prior to joining UC Irvine, Wickramasinghe managed nanoscience and technology research at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. Holding over 100 patents, some of his most significant inventions and contributions to the Nano field include the development of the vibrating mode (on non-contact) atomic force microscope (AFM), the magnetic force microscope, the electrostatic force microscope, the Kelvin probe force microscope, the scanning thermal microscope, and the aperture less near-field optical microscope. These scanning probe microscopes are the eyes used to see and measure the nanotechnology products being developed around the world.










CaSTL Pathways Program / Albany State University

 John L. Williams is an Assistant Professor of Biology and lead facilitator for the CaSTL-ASU Pathways Program at Albany State University. He also is the Director of the NSF-sponsored Florida Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation at ASU. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Albany State University, and his Ph.D. in Cell/Molecular Biology from Florida State University.  His research focuses on molecular and structural mechanisms of cardiovascular physiology and pathologies.  Additionally, Dr. Williams focuses on invertebrate models of disease, such as planaria and Aurelia (Moon jellies), which he uses to investigate modifiers of neuromuscular physiology. 


CaSTL PI / UC, Irvine

 Ruqian Wu is a professor of Physics. He received his Ph. D degrees from the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Science in 1989. He joined the Physics faculty at UCI in 2001, after serving as a faculty member in Cal State University for 7 years, and a postdoctoral fellow in Northwestern University for 4 years. His group works on developing and applying density functional approaches for studies of various physical properties of materials, such as spintronics and topological materials, nanostructures, photovoltaic and photo-spin-voltaic materials and surface catalysis. His current research for the CaSTL focuses on manipulation of single atomic bonds, molecular vibrations, catalytic properties of Nanocavities, rectification of Nanojunctions, in collaboration with experimentalists.





CaSTL / UC, Irvine

Venkat Bommisetty is the Managing Director of the CaSTL Center. He received a Ph.D. degree in Materials Science & Technology from Toyama University, Japan. He established nanoscience research program and shared cleanroom facility at South Dakota State University. His research interests include the study of single molecules using scanning tunneling microscopy. He studied nanoscale charge transport in organic and inorganic materials and devices, including Graphene, nanocrystalline silicon.



CaSTL / UC, Irvine

 Teresa Louis joined CaSTL Center in December 2017 as the Administrative Specialist. She has a medical background and been working at UC Irvine for almost 12 years, in various positions at the hospital campus. Her hobbies include running a catering company of 10 years, entertaining, traveling, and enjoying the outdoors.




CaSTL / UC, Irvine

 Danielle L. Watt is the Director of Education, Outreach, and Diversity for CaSTL Center, leading the efforts to share CaSTL science with the public and engage the community in informal STEM education. She also conducts and organizes workshops for the professional development of center trainees. Prior to joining CaSTL, she was a research scientist at Umeå University in Sweden studying how DNA is copied and repaired and how mistakes during these processes may lead to the development of cancer. She has her Ph.D. in Bio-organic Chemistry from the University of Connecticut and was a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH.


CaSTL Guests




Stated Clearly

 Jon Perry is a science communicator running the popular YouTube channel Stated Clearly. He works with researchers to present their work to the public through animations.







Assistant Professor / University of South Florida


Dmitri Voronine is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Physics, University of South Florida, Tampa. He received his PhD from Bowling Green State University. He then worked on theoretical spectroscopy at the University of California, Irvine, followed by experimental ultrafast nanoplasmonics at Wuerzburg University, and on 2D materials at Texas A&M University. He developed new experimental techniques for measuring quantum plasmonic behaviour of 2D materials and for time-resolved surface-enhanced coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (tr-SECARS) spectroscopy. His research interests are in the experimental and theoretical materials science, including biomaterials, coherent multidimensional spectroscopy, ultrafast nano-optics and quantum biology.

Senior Scientists









NSC / University of Jyväskylä

 Eero Hulkko holds Master’s and PhD degrees in Physical Chemistry from University of Jyväskylä. He was an Academy of Finland postdoctoral fellow at UCI in the group of V. A. Apkarian during years 2012-2015. His current research mainly involves utilizing spectroscopy to understand light&matter interactions of various nanosystems. Focus of his current research are properties of thiol-protected metal clusters, plasmonic antennas, and steering chemistry using strong coupling.


NSC / University of Jyväskylä


 We seek quantitative and qualitative understanding of localized surface plasmon resonances (LSPR) in small nanoparticles and its applications towards photocatalysis and photovoltaics. We are interested into the interplay between the discrete superatomic single electron states and collective excitations and hot carrier generation. To be able to work in this frontier, we practically design, develop and implement all our computational methods for all our methods in house. We are interested in variety of timescales from Landau scattering (~10 fs) to electron-electron thermalization (~ps) to coherent phonon dynamics (~10 ps). Currently, we are working with several implementations including non-adiabatic molecular dynamics, real time periodic TDDFT, grand canonical dynamics for electrons, ab initio quasiparticle picture for plasmonic excitations and hot-electron generation. We also aim to understand the implications of quantized conduction pathways between plasmonic nanoclusters, and look for ways to combine molecular photoswitches to nanoplasmonics to create switchable charge transfer plasmons. 


CaSTL, Apkarian Lab  / UC, Irvine

Joonhee Lee is a Project Scientist in the Apkarian group where his research interest is visualizing molecular vibration in real space using a combination of STM and ultrafast optical pulses. Techniques I use are tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy and time-resolved scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). Besides the research, I like programming, machining, and electronics.


NSC / University of Jyväskylä

Pasi Myllyperkiö got his PhD in physical chemistry from the University of

Jyväskylä in 2009. His doctoral dissertation study focused on photo induced electron transfer dynamics on dye/semiconductor interface. After graduation he has worked as a researcher and a laboratory engineer at the department of chemistry and in the Nanoscience Center of the University of Jyväskylä. He is the technical supervisor of the laser laboratory in NSC, where his scientific work is related to various measurement techniques on time-resolved femtosecond spectroscopy and microspectroscopy. He is also developing analysis tools and software for the measurements. Myllyperkiö is a member of professor Pettersson’s group and provides technical knowledge and support for various spectroscopic installments.



CaSTL Pathways Program / Albany State University

 Brandon Walker is the Research Instrument Specialist and Chemistry Instructor in the Department of Chemistry and Forensic Sciences at Albany State University (Albany, GA). He holds a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Grambling State University and a M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Iowa. Brandon Walker is experienced in atomic imaging techniques and many other instrument platforms. His research, “Bioactive Nanostructures using Molecular Beacon Technology”, focused on the development of new Nano-biosensors for food borne pathogen detection.



Postdoctoral Scientists 


CaSTL, Apkarian Lab / UC, Irvine

 Mayukh Banik is an experimental spectroscopist, working with Ara Apkarian, on Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy on the single Nano-dimer system. He is trying to address multipolar Raman that is inevitably unavoidable in plasmonic junctions of ~1 nm gap size. Polarization-resolved measurements help identify the active plasmons based on their symmetry, along with isotropic electronic Raman on the system.


CaSTL, Schatz Lab / Northwestern University

 Charles Cherqui has degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Loyola Marymount University and PhD in Physics from the University of New Mexico. His research examines how unique properties of localized surface plasmons can be harnessed to create the next generation of light-harnessing, biosensing, and photonic applications. He is interested in how to best model the generation and subsequent transport properties of electrons at the interface between metal nanoparticles and semiconductors. From a wider perspective, to understand how the life cycle of localized surface plasmons is affected by their interaction with the surrounding dielectric environment.






CaSTL, Wickramasinghe Lab / UC, Irvine


Sina Hamian is a postdoctoral scholar at the Center for Chemistry at the Space-Time Limit (CaSTL) at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), working under supervision of Professor Kumar Wickramasinghe. He earned his Ph.D. from University of Utah in 2017, working on nanoscale energy transport on an AFM platform under Professor Keunhan Park’s supervisory. He accomplished his Master and undergraduate studies at Sharif University of Technology and K.N.Toosi University of Technology, respectively during which he worked on heat transfer in nanofuilds. His work is published in multiple peer-reviewed journal papers. He is now focused on stimulated Raman spectroscopy (SRS).



CaSTL, Potma Lab / UC, Irvine

 Bongsu Kim holds a PhD degree in physics from Seoul National University, Korea. He studied the nanoscale water dynamics using AFM (atomic force microscopy). After joining the Potma group in 2015, he has focused on the combined system of AFM and optics. Recently, he studied the optical stark effect on single-walled carbon nanotubes using photo-induced force microscopy and transient absorption spectroscopy. He is interested in quantum optics and nanoscale ultrafast optical measurements.







NSC / University of Jyväskylä


Kamila Mentel is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Jyväskylä. She received her MS degree from Jagiellonian University and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of Coimbra. Her research interests include spectroscopy, ultrafast lasers, intramolecular electron transfer and nanomaterials. Her current research focuses on tuning properties of graphene by direct laser writing with femtosecond pulses. 


CaSTL, Van Duyne Lab / Northwestern University

 Duc obtained his B.S. in Physical Chemistry from Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Vietnam in 2011. In the same year, he moved to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA to pursue a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry under supervision of Prof. Martin Gruebele and Prof. Joseph Lyding. He completed his Ph.D. in 2016 and moved to Northwestern University, Illinois, USA in 2017 for a postdoctoral study with Prof. Richard P. Van Duyne. His research interests include optical scanning tunneling microscopy, single-molecule absorption, tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy and surface glass dynamics.


Untitled:Users:imacchem:Desktop:Roy Khokan.jpeg


CaSTL, Apkarian Lab UC, Irvine

 Khokan Roy has a PhD. in Physical Chemistry from Indian Institute of Science. He is developing Stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) based methods to improve the Raman yield of a functionalized scanning probe microscope tip.  He is also interested in surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) based methods to probe and visualize individual molecules.






CaSTL, Apkarian Lab / UC, Irvine


Benjamen N. Taber holds a B.A. in Physics from Colorado College, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Physics and Chemistry, respectively, from the University of Oregon. Prior to pursuing a Ph.D., he worked at I.B.M. on source/drain epitaxy unit process development. His Ph.D. research, with George V. Nazin, focused on investigating the electronic structure of nanomaterials in real space with scanning tunneling microscopy. Co-author of over 10 publications and a patent, his current research combines scanning probe microscopy with ultrafast non-linear optical microscopy to query, in real-time, individual molecules with atomic spatial resolution.



CaSTL, Van Duyne Lab / Northwestern University

 Dhara Trivedi has a B.S. and M.S. in Physics from Gujarat University and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Rochester. Her research interests range from fundamental aspects of semiclassical physics, to excitation dynamics in nanoscale systems. She currently studies optical properties of nanostructures and the development of theoretical models and computational methods, investigating the properties of nanoscale structures.




Graduate Students



CaSTL, Petek Lab / University of Pittsburg

Yanan is a graduate student whose research has been focused on the imaging of light that is tightly confined at nano- and micro-scale metallic silver (Ag) particles, and the visualization of its dynamics with sub-femtosecond precision. Specifically, he uses broad range tunable femtosecond laser pulses generated from non-colinear optical parametric amplifier, to excite surface plasmon polaritons on Ag, and image the plasmon distribution by multi-photon photoemission electron microscopy (mP-PEEM). In addition, by combining pump-probe measurement with phase retarders, he has observed dynamics of spin-momentum locked surface plasmons.

Hiltunen Vesa-Matti, Doctoral Student 




NSC / University of Jyväskylä


Vesa-Matti Hiltunen is a Doctoral Student at the University of Jyväskylä Nanoscience Center (NSC). He holds BSc and MSc in physics from JYU. The focus of his research is in graphene synthesis and –sample fabrication as well as characterization of both intrinsic and laser modified graphene. His current research methods include various fabrication techniques, Raman spectroscopy and microscopy techniques, such as AFM, SEM and TEM.

Macintosh HD:Users:emetz:Desktop:Finland:Bios:john houlihan current photo.png


CaSTL, Apkarian Lab / UC, Irvine


 In my research effort, I have advanced the assembly of designer nanostructures using Nano-robotics, inside a scanning electron microscope. An example is shown in Figure 1, where a hexamer of gold Nanospheres has been assembled, as a structure that can sustain a magnetic plasmon in its center. The combination of this structure with azimuthally polarized light is expected to generate large magnetic fields, and that will be explored in the future. The principal advance is the development of the ability to rapidly assemble reconfigurable structures while viewing them under the scanning electron microscope, with 5 nm spatial resolution. The entire assembly, in this case, could be completed in minutes, as compared to non-reconfigurable methods of construction that rely on electron-beam lithography or focused ion-beam milling and cutting. Moreover, it is possible to assemble structures of different materials, dielectrics, metals, semiconductors starting with the units, such as quantum dots and Nanospheres, triangles, cylinders. Many such structures have already been made, and await the development of magnetic force microscopy to be tested.

After graduation, my goal is to become an executive in the semiconductor industry for a corporation such as Intel or ASML.








CaSTL, Jensen Lab

/ Penn State University

 Pengchong’s research is focused on theoretical modeling of plasmon-enhanced vibrational spectroscopies and plasmon coupling in the quantum size regime. A strongly interacting plasmonic dimer/junction confines the near field in a volume as small as the size of an atom, which allows for an extremely high spatial resolution in TERS measurements. High-resolution TERS scanning can visualize molecular vibrational modes uniquely. Using both quantum mechanics and electrodynamics models, he studies and tries to learn the underlying physical mechanisms of TERS imaging. He is also developing new models to study charge delocalization between small molecules and large metallic nanoparticles.



CaSTL, Law Lab / UC, Irvine

 Zhongyue Luan’s research involves controllable and reproducible fabrication of ALD-functionalized plasmonic nantennas to study charge transfer reactions in photoelectrocatalysis process. Ag-Al2O3 and Ag-TiO2 nanocube dimers were fabricated via colloidal assembly and atomic layer deposition (ALD). SERS study of bipheyl-4,4’-dithiol and N710 dye showing enhanced nanocube stability in air under laser. Recent effort has been made to assemble deterministic Au dimers with the help of maleimide-thiol coupling chemistry and femtosecond laser.






NSC / University of Jyväskylä

 Jyrki Manninen is a first year PhD student at the Department of Physics at the University of Jyväskylä, where he also completed his previous studies for MSc. The main focus of his PhD dissertation is fabrication and electrical characterization of graphene based devices functionalized by femtosecond laser irradiation, which was also the topic of his Master’s thesis. His research methods include electronic transport measurements at room temperature and cryogenic temperatures along with microfabrication methods and imaging (AFM, SEM).


CaSTL, Shumaker-Parry Lab / University of Utah

 Jacob is a first year graduate student with research interests primarily in the fabrication of plasmonic nanomaterials, and in using those in plasmon-driven chemistry.  Specifically, he is interested in the application of plasmon-driven chemistry for catalysis or biomolecule sensing. He graduated from Northwest Nazarene University in 2016 with a B.S. in chemistry and physics, then taught chemistry labs and high school physics last year in Idaho. 





CaSTL, Apkarian Lab / UC, Irvine

 I am a chemical physics graduate student whose work centers on investigating the surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) processes of plasmonic nanoparticles functionalized with molecular reporters. I am particularly interested in understanding plasmonic chirality, which we elucidate through polarization-resolved SERS studies. We find that the handedness of the plasmon to large extent dictates the scattering response of both the metal and molecule, and open up its application to phenomena ranging from quantum encryption to negative index media.







NSC / University of Jyväskylä

 Ville Saarnio finished his MSc. in the beginning of 2017 at University of Jyväskylä. His scientific work has been multidisciplinary: his MSc. thesis (Antiviral Molecules of Enteroviruses) combined both chemistry and bioscience. He works as the lone chemist, supervised by Dr. Lahtinen, in Dr. Marjomäki’s cell and molecular biology group studying enterovirus infections. The aim of his PhD thesis is the use of organic synthesis for development of novel molecules enabling new ways of studying the virus behavior. The main focus of the PhD thesis is in the sensing of nucleic acids with fluorescent cyanine dyes and the interactions involved with their targets. Additionally his research interests include gold nanoparticles and metal enhanced fluorescence.


Karolina Sokolowska uni





NSC / University of Jyväskylä

 Karolina Sokolowska is currently in her second year of her phD in chemistry studies. Her research interest center around gold nanoparticles, nanoclusters and their superstructures. They are excellent prototype systems to study quantum mechanical origins of plasmons and different types of plasmonic couplings. The research especially focuses on coupling through molecular bridges. Her goal is to learn how the ligand layer can be modified for different purposes, hopefully leading to novel applications. Her research interest involves application of advanced transmission electron microscopy (TEM) tools for characterization of nanoclusters and utilizing obtained knowledge for improving nanomaterials design.


 Untitled:Users:imacchem:Downloads:Peter Stevenson.jpg


CaSTL, Shumaker-Parry Lab / University of Utah


Peter Stevenson is a Chemistry graduate student at the University of Utah in the Shumaker-Parry research group. He has a BS in Chemistry from Brigham Young University—Idaho and worked with specialty chemicals as a polymer and applications chemist before starting at the University of Utah. The primary focus of his graduate research is the fabrication and characterization of novel plasmonic nanomaterials. These efforts are anticipated to provide fundamental insight towards improved plasmon-mediated systems such as controlled chemical detection and photochemical reactivity.


CaSTL, Wickramasinghe Lab / UC, Irvine

 Ashab Uddin is a PhD. Student of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EESC) at UCI, under the supervision of Prof. Kumar Wickramasinghe. The principal focus of his research has been on nano-photonics, spectroscopy, optical microscopy. His current research concentrates on increasing the Tip Enhanced Raman signal and hence, increasing the signal to noise ratio of Tip Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS) based bio-molecule detection.

Macintosh HD:Users:emetz:Desktop:tueltschi.jpg 


CaSTL, Van Duyne Lab / Northwestern University

My research is focused on driving chemistry using plasmonic nanoparticles and observing these reactions using surface-enhanced (ultrafast) Raman spectroscopy techniques. When I am not in the lab I enjoy playing golf, skiing, and spending time with family.







CaSTL, Ge Lab / UC, Irvine


Ilya Vinogradov is a graduate student in Professor Nien-Hui Ge’s lab at the Department of Chemistry at UCI. He holds a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Kentucky. The principal focus of his research has been on two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy (2DIR) on small infrared molecular probes for biomolecules. His previous work focused on a noise reduction algorithm for heterodyned spectroscopies. His current research focuses on intramolecular vibrational energy redistribution in the tyrosine side chain and surface enhanced 2DIR using infrared nanoantenna arrays.


CaSTL, Ho Lab / UC, Irvine

 Likun is a third-year graduate student in Physics advised by Prof. Wilson Ho. My research focuses on the study of coherent vibration and spin dynamics at single molecule level using laser coupled scanning tunneling microscope (STM). I’m also involved in developing instrumentation in the lab, such as building helium recycling system, upgrading STM and optimizing our femto-second laser system.

Untitled:Users:imacchem:Downloads:Xia, Yunpeng.JPG


CaSTL, Ho Lab / UC, Irvine

 Yunpeng Xia is a 1st-year graduate student in Prof. Wilson Ho’s group and have been working on STM since undergraduate study. Yunpeng has been trained both experimentally and theoretically to characterize molecules with TERS and study light-matter interaction with STML. Now he focus on IETS to study the interaction between molecule spins with environment.






CaSTL, Law Lab / UC, Irvine


Andy Yang is currently a first year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D in Chemistry at UCI. He graduated University of California Davis with a BS in Physics and Chemistry. After leaving UC Davis and before joining UCI Irvine, he worked as a research associate conducting R&D for a biotech startup in the Bay Area. Because of his interest in energy research and science, he has decided to pursue a Ph.D under the mentorship of Prof. Matt Law. His research emphasis is on plasmonic photocatalysis for ammonia production. The goal is to use light as the primary energy source for producing useful and valuable chemicals.



Undergraduate Students



CaSTL Pathways Program, Potma Lab / Albany State University

 S. Makayla Decastro a 2017 alumna of Albany State University, where she received her B.S. in Forensic Science and a minor in Chemistry. She is a 2017-18 CaSTL-ASU Pathways Program fellow with Eric Potma where she conducted research using Non-Linear Spectroscopy techniques. Her project was focused on creating a system that could improve the interaction of matter with the magnetic component of light. This system can be used for mapping magnetic field distributions of light near a given sample when used with a modified atomic tip of an AFM. Her plan is to attend graduate school to earn her Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology to later become a Forensic Toxicologist under the Postmortem discipline.






CaSTL, Apkarian Lab /  UC, Irvine

 Wills Harris is a Junior physics major at Reed College. He is a CaSTL research intern working in the Apkarian lab with Kate Rodriguez and Mayukh Banik on SERS. Wills is most involved in studying a BPE molecule with a distinctive fluctuating Raman response. In addition to an interest in science, Wills enjoys playing and recording music, woodworking, and video editing.



CaSTL Pathways Program, Apkarian Lab / Albany State University

 Howard Weatherspoon is a junior math major at Albany State University with plans to pursue a Ph.D. in applied mathematics. He has a passion to encourage minority students to overcome the fear of mathematics and to embrace it as well as other areas in STEM. He is a 2018-19 CaSTL-ASU Pathways Program fellow who will be working with Ara Apkarian.

Untitled:Users:imacchem:Desktop:Carterion Whitlock.JPG


CaSTL Pathways Program, Wickramasinghe Lab / Albany State University

 Carterion Whitlock is a junior Pre-Engineering major at Albany State University with plans to obtain a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. He is a 2018-19 CaSTL-ASU Pathways Program fellow who will be working with Kumar Wickramasinghe.