Research in the Wustholz group focuses on using spectroscopy to probe the optical and structural properties of chromophores in environments that are inherently heterogeneous. We study organic dyes at interfaces, both semiconductor and noble metal nanoparticle, for applications to solar energy conversion as well as chemical sensing and imaging.
- Interfacial electron transfer (ET) processes dictate the efficiency of materials and devices that are used to harness solar energy. We are paricularly interested in elucidating the ET kinetics in dye-sensitized systems for applications to solar cells and artificial photosynthesis. By employing single-molecule spectroscopy (SMS), we can probe the full distribution of ET behavior occurring at the heterogeneous dye-semiconductor interface. These studies are supported by robust statistical analysis and computational modeling. In another project, we are determining the structure-property relationships of organic dye aggregates on semiconductor films. These studies will inform the design and development of next-generation materials for solar-to-electrical and solar-to-fuel conversion.
- By overcoming the diffraction limit of light, super-resolution imaging can elucidate biological and materials structures and processes down to the molecular scale. Many super-resolution approaches require single molecules that undergo switching between emissive (on) and non-emissive (off) events. The Wustholz group is pursuing two new research projects in the area of multicolor super-resolution imaging.
- Owing to its exquiste sensitivty and selectivity, surface-enhanced Raman
spectroscopy (SERS) is increasingly used for the study of cultural heritage objects.
In collaboration with the paintings conservation lab at Colonial
Williamsburg, we design and develop new SERS-based methods to identify
fugitive (fading) pigments in precious works of art. More recently,
these results have inspired us to new avenues in biological sensing.