Halas, Nordlander awarded Optical Society’s R.W. Wood Prize

Rice University researchers recognized for pioneering nanophotonics

The Optical Society has awarded Rice University researchers Naomi Halas and Peter Nordlander the prestigious 2015 R.W. Wood Prize for their groundbreaking work in nanophotonics.

Naomi Halas

Halas and Nordlander’s research has addressed a wide range of plasmonic topics from electromagnetic theory to nanofabrication and engineering applications. By examining how light interacts with engineered metallic nanoparticles and designing devices that capitalize on those interactions, the two have explored the use of photonic materials for the treatment of cancer, molecular sensing, biomimetic photodetection, self-camouflaging metamaterials, off-grid solar-powered sterilization and more.The R.W. Wood Prize is given for an outstanding discovery, scientific or technological achievement or invention that opens a new era of optics research or significantly expands an established one. Halas and Nordlander will receive the prize Oct. 18 at the society’s annual meeting, Frontiers in Optics 2015, in San Jose, Calif.

Halas is Rice’s Stanley C. Moore Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a professor of biomedical engineering, chemistry, physics and astronomy, and materials science and nanoengineering. She directs both the Rice Quantum Institute and Rice’s Richard Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and is the first person in the university’s history to be elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering for research done at Rice. She also is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the founding director of Rice’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics and one of the world’s most-cited experts in nanophotonics and plasmonics.

Peter Nordlander

Nordlander is the Wiess Chair in Physics and Astronomy, and professor of electrical and computer engineering, and material science and nanoengineering. He is one of the world’s leading theoretical experts in nanoparticle plasmonics. His development of the plasmon hybridization picture is the fundamental theoretical breakthrough that underlies the current conceptual view of plasmonic nanostructures as artificial molecules. He is a past director of the Rice Quantum Institute, fellow of the Optical Society, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Society for Optics and Photonics, as well as the recipient of the 2013 Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics and the 2014 Frank Isakson Prize for Optical effects in Solids.

“Naomi Halas and Peter Nordlander are tremendous scientists, and Rice takes great pride in their achievements,” said Yousif Shamoo, Rice’s vice provost for research. “It is hard to imagine how they will outdo themselves, but I am sure they will!”

The society, which was founded in 1916 as the Optical Society of America and renamed the Optical Society in 2008, boasts 19,000 worldwide members and is the leading professional association for optics and photonics, the sciences of light.

About Jade Boyd

Jade Boyd is science editor and associate director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.