Wednesday, December 12, 2018
A defining property of soft matter is the self-assembly of complex structures programmed by interactions among individual components. This property can be harnessed to create novel photonic materials through a “bottom-up” approach, where soft matter building blocks guide the assembly of various light-active elements or even form the optical nanostructures themselves during assembly. I will discuss efforts to understand the fundamental properties of two classes of optical materials formed using polymer building blocks. Few-atom silver clusters exhibiting high quantum yield fluorescence can be stabilized using the biopolymer DNA. Many properties of these clusters remain poorly understood. We are combining high throughput experiments with tools from data science to better understand the process by which DNA sequence selects cluster size and color and the process that leads to photoemission of these clusters. Next, I will discuss photonic materials templated by synthetic block copolymers. Block copolymers can guide the assembly of optically active nanoparticles and molecules into ordered structures, and a better understanding of this process may allow researchers to tune the interactions among these photonic elements. We are studying how block copolymer properties tune assembly of colloidal quantum dots and are investigating the molecular mechanisms behind a shape-changing polymer nanostructure.
Stacy Copp is a Hoffman Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow and UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she works with Gabriel Montaño and Atul Parikh. She is also a 2018 L’Oreal USA for Women in Science Fellow. Stacy's research focuses on novel photonic materials scaffolded by both biological and synthetic polymers. Much of her work incorporates tools from machine learning and data mining to “learn” the underlying scientific principles that govern self-assembly and to intelligently design new materials. Stacy earned her BS summa cum laude in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Arizona in 2011 and her PhD in Physics from UC Santa Barbara in 2016, where she worked in the group of Elisabeth Gwinn as a NSF and UC Chancellor’s Fellow.