CAFF will pursue team-level, hypothesis-driven questions that are larger and broader than any single-investigator effort. With Rossky and Levine providing theory guidance, Dionne, Gruebele, Landes, Link, Roberts, and Zanni will design spectroscopic imaging methods and translate them into modules, data analysis tools, and instruments that are accessible to the broader community.

Christy Landes
Christy F. Landes is the Jerry A. Walker Endowed Chair in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. After graduating with a BS from George Mason University in 1998, she completed a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2003 under the direction of Prof. Mostafa El-Sayed. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon and an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, under the direction of Prof. Geraldine Richmond and Prof. Paul Barbara, respectively, before joining the University of Houston as an assistant professor in 2006. She moved to Rice University in 2009 and became a professor of chemistry and electrical & computer engineering. In 2023 she accepted her current role at UIUC. Christy is an active member of the American Chemical Society and the Physical Chemistry Division, and serves as Vice-Chair Elect, Vice-Chair, Chair-Elect and Chair of the Division from 2020-2023. One of her interests is in bringing scientists together to form communities that span different areas of expertise. She has organized national, regional, and local symposia. She serves as a senior editor of the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, on the Editorial Committee of the Annual Review of Physical Chemistry, and on the Editorial Advisory Board of ACS Nano. Christy is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, the Biophysical Society, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The Landes Group is comprised of chemists, applied physicists, and engineers who develop next-generation tools to image dynamics at soft interfaces at the limit of a single event. Her group devises new methods and models for controlling macroscale processes such as protein separations and photocatalysis using this super-resolved chemical knowledge. The group also uses advanced signal and image processing methods to improve accuracy and precision in low-signal measurements. Christy’s outreach activities emphasize the importance of mathematics and computer programming in our increasingly data-driven world. Her goal for the community goal is to underscore our common values despite the expanding need to broaden and redefine our respective specializations.
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Jennifer Dionne
Dionne was funded through NSF DMR-1151231 CAREER: Symmetry-Breaking in Metamaterials: Giving a ‘Twist’ to Light-Matter Interactions (2012-2018, $600,000 with a no-cost, one year extension to this 5-year grant given for the PI’s maternity leave) Intellectual Merit: The research funded through this support designed, developed, and characterized new optical materials with a strong, tunable, electric and magnetic response to visible-light illumination. This project involved: 1. Computational design of nanostructures that support strong electric and magnetic dipoles; 2. Fabrication/synthesis of these nanostructures; 3. Using these nanostructures as building blocks of bulk media with a tunable refractive index that can be positive, zero, or negative; and 4. Using nanostructures to control the chiral response, enhance circular dichroism, and enable enantioselective synthesis. Broader Impacts: We disseminated results to the broader community through: 1. Participation in STEM undergraduate mentoring; 2. Involving high-school students and teachers in laboratory research; and 3. Development of a 'nanoscience as art' public exhibit. We developed and maintained a lab blog ( and Instagram account to share our work and research experiences with the broader public. We collaborated with artist Kate Nicols to develop nanoscience art exhibits at the Bay Area Science Festival and the Materials Research Society Annual Meetings. We also worked with Director Michael Fried of Planet Earth Arts to develop a series of plays on renewable energy and endangered species. 10 publications resulted.340-349
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Stephan Link
Professor Stephan Link received a Diplom of Chemistry in 1996 from the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany, followed by graduate work at the Georgia Institute of Technology under the supervision of National Academy of Science member Professor Mostafa El-Sayed. For his PhD thesis, Stephan employed ensemble transient absorption spectroscopy to investigate the ultrafast relaxation dynamics of colloidal gold nanorods including their photothermal, solution-phase reshaping into spheres. Starting in 2001, Stephan gained postdoctoral research experiences at the Georgia Institute of Technology under Professors Mostafa El-Sayed and Rick Trebino, and then the University of Texas at Austin, where he worked with National Academy of Science member Professor Paul Barbara. In the Barbara lab, Stephan applied various single-molecule spectroscopy techniques to understand the molecular ordering of single conjugated polymers in the anisotropic solvation potential of liquid crystals. In 2006, Stephan started his independent academic career in the Chemistry Department at Rice University. He was promoted to associate professor in 2013 and full professor in 2017. He has a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is a member of the Smalley-Curl Institute and the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering. Since 2021, he holds the Charles W. Duncan, Jr.-Welch Chair in Chemistry. Building on his experiences in ultrafast spectroscopy and single-molecule microscopy, Stephan’s research is focused on understanding the effects of heterogeneity on the collective opto-electronic properties of complex nanophotonic nanostructures consisting of metallic nanoparticles coupled to each other as well as to soft molecular or inorganic interfaces. Fundamental questions that his work has addressed are the generation of color through near- and far-field plasmon coupling in 1D nanoparticle assemblies and 2D arrays including chiral nanostructures, the relaxation dynamics of surface plasmons and the role of interfacial charge and energy transfer including under applied electrochemical potentials, the control over nanoscale photothermal heating via hybridized plasmon modes, and the interactions of proteins with nanomaterials. In the process, Stephan’s group employed, advanced, and pioneered several methods capable of monitoring separately the absorption, scattering, and emission of single nanostructures, including for example photothermal absorption spectroscopy, snapshot hyperspectral imaging, and circular and trochoidal differential scattering. Correlation with electron microscopy and tomography as input for electromagnetic simulations typically complements spectroscopic studies to gain detailed insights into structure-function relationships. Stephan has mentored 28 graduate students, 17 postdoctoral fellows, and 16 undergraduate students. He has published over 170 papers receiving >35,000 citation (H-index of 69). His awards include an NSF CAREER Award and the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research from by the Robert A. Welch Foundation. Examples of Stephan’s service to the university and the scientific community are: Chair for Graduate Studies, Chemistry Department Rice University; Chair of the Gordon Research Conference on Noble Metal Nanoparticles; and Senior Editor of The Journal of Physical Chemistry.
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Martin Zanni
Zanni had support from NSF CHE-1665110 Photoinitiated Charge Transfer in Tailor-Made Molecules Studied with 100 kHz 2D White-Light Spectroscopy (2017-2020 $497,000). Intellectual Merit: This funding resulted in 9 articles that appeared in Nat. Chem., J. Am. Chem. Soc, J. Phys. Chem., Optics Express, and elsewhere.95, 101, 102, 376-381 We developed a new femtosecond spectrometer for imaging by combining a pulse-shaper 2D spectrometer and an atomic force microscope that enabled broadband transient absorption imaging with point-scan 2D WL spectroscopy with sub-micron spatial resolution. We are currently adapting this microscope to use the AFM for optical detection of the 2D pulse sequences. We applied the new microscope to TIPS-pentacene microcrystals and semiconducting carbon nanotube thin films. Broader Impacts: The research involved 8 graduate students, 4 postdoctoral researchers, and 4 undergraduates. Professors Serrano (from an under-represented group), Ghosh, Maj, and Ostrander are all now assistant professors. Undergraduate Isabelle Tigges-Green pursued a PhD at Princeton. Undergraduate Nichole Peterson is in the Air Force ROTC. Outreach includes a long-standing collaboration with Wingra Elementary School where we give the featured presentation at their Science Night. The 2021 Wingra Science Night takes place Feb. 23. This year we sent home kits that students and their parents will experiment on while we lead a virtual event. Zanni also serves on the PHYS Executive Committee of the ACS and organized the PHYS symposia for the two 2020 national meetings and contributes to the broader community as Deputy Editor for the Journal of Physical Chemistry.
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