Halas said Rice's small size was attractive, largely because of the corresponding culture of interdepartmental collaboration made possible by the campus's various institutes.
"When I interviewed at Rice, they took me to lunch at a meeting of the Rice Quantum Institute," Halas said. "You had all these professors from different disciplines and departments talking about their work, and it really reminded me of the lunch table at Bell Labs, where you had Nobel laureates sitting with postdocs sharing ideas and talking about how to work together.
"Rick Smalley was fond of saying that you could do really great science anywhere, and I had seen the great science that came out of small places like IBM Zurich and at Bryn Mawr, where I got my Ph.D.," Halas said. "I recognized pretty early on that Rice's institutes could bring people together in a special way."
She rapidly rose through Rice's academic ranks, but it was her invention of gold nanoshells in the mid-1990s that first drew international attention. Halas' nanoshells were among the first optically tunable nanoparticles, and the discovery established her as a pioneer in nanophotonics, a then-nascent field dedicated to the exploration of nano-optics.
Nanoshells have a solid nonconducting core, typically made from silica. Encasing this core is a thin shell of conductive metal, often gold or silver. The metal shell interacts with light, but only of a specific wavelength. By varying the thickness of the metal shell, Halas showed she could tune her nanoshells to selectively interact with many different colors of light as well as
|Contact: David Ruth|