Dr. Vuong’s research seeks to understand the optical and nonlinear behavior of nanometer-sized particles (nanoparticles) in liquids (nanofluids). In such systems, light scattering is coupled to the mechanical, electrical, and chemical behavior. Students in Dr. Vuong’s laboratory have used lasers and other light sources to measure the changes corresponding with light intensity or nanoparticle environment (temperature, presence of externally-applied magnetic fields, solvent, concentration).
For example, the figure below shows some interesting behavior of nanofluids- where light illuminating a nanofluid “strums” the meniscus (boundary between air and water) and drives spontaneous and consistent mechanical oscillations. Dr. Vuong comments “I think it’s fascinating how light–which is massless– can produce such strong and robust oscillations.”
What was your inspiration for this project?
My research is driven by a certain curiosity and aesthetic for spirals and vorticial nonlinear dynamics, where the assumptions of linear superposition (and much of our general intuition of wave behavior) are thrown out the window.
How does this project relate to a practical technological issue?
The surprising aspect about my research is that there are, indeed, still surprises! The fundamental principles of electromagnetics haven’t really changed since the 19th century– yet the advent of nanostructures and nanotechnology has led to a new ability to manipulate light. My research demonstrates that we can control of the optical behavior associated with nanometals, even in messy nonlinear systems like nanofluids. Future technologies could include the know-how to build and characterize optoelectronic materials (i.e., paintable solar-energy-harvesting materials), new pH or solvent sensors and the adaptive control or manipulation of bio-materials.
What role do undergraduates play in this project?
Undergrad participation depends largely on the motivation of the student. If the undergraduate has a preference for straightforward tasks, then he/she will take measurements. If the student is curious, able to creatively explore the project concepts, and critically analyze data, then much more will be accomplished.
Have you had any interesting experiences while working on this project?
Last year a broken laser obliged us to experiment with different materials and solvents, which have led to new papers and projects.
Are there resources for readers interested in further study of this topic?
Students at QC have access to an uber-hyperlinked journal citation database called Web of Science. I highly recommend that students who are interested in research take time to browse papers with related topics. Reading review articles will improve one’s general knowledge and viewing shorter Letters will provide an understanding of what a project involves. In terms of my own research, some good keywords are “nanophotonics”, “plasmon*”, “nanofluid*”, “spin angular momentum” and “optical vort*” (for vortex or vortices).
Spam prevention powered by Akismet