News Archive


12.04.19  Thanks to Prof. Libai Huang and the Physical Chemistry division at Purdue University for hosting Prashant’s visit and seminar on artificial photosynthesis.


11.26.19 How does one think about the chemical potential of light excitations, especially in plasmon-driven chemistry. We provide a simple picture in our latest paper published in Angewandte Chemie. link

11.26.19 Prashant is visiting the Chemical Engineering department at Oklahoma State University, where he will discuss the storage of energy from plasmonic excitations in chemical bonds. Thanks to Prof. Mari Andiappan for hosting!

11.09.19 Prashant is recommended for promotion to Professor of Chemistry (effective 2020).

11.09.19. Under plasmonic excitation the electrochemical hydrogen evolution reaction on a nanostructured gold electrocatalyst is enhanced. In our latest paper published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C, we describe this effect and its mechanistic origin link Congratulations to Andrew!


10.17.19 The group bids a warm farewell to Sungju Yu, who is set to move to Korea to start an independent position at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology. We thank Sungju for his many contributions to the group!

​10.16.19  Prashant gave a talk on plasmonic photosynthesis at the Electrochemical Society meeting in Atlanta.

10.10.19  See our viewpoint article on “Taking the heat off of plasmonic chemistry” in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C link


​10.09.19 Jaeyoung has passed his PhD preliminary exam. Congratulations Jaeyoung!


09.16.19 We welcome Dr. Ankita Das who has joined us as a postdoctoral researcher. Ankita is a photochemist and a laser spectroscopist, who received her PhD from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.


09.10.19 Daniel has successfully defended his PhD dissertation. To top it off, Daniel will also receive this year’s Physical Chemistry Dissertation Award! The group celebrates the accomplishments of to-be-soon Dr. Dumett Torres with his family. pic Congratulations, Daniel!


08.28.19 In our most recent plasmonic photosynthetic scheme, we find it that it is possible to control the selectivity between the hydrogen evolution and hydrocarbon production channels. Our findings appear in ACS Energy Letters. link Congratulations to first author Sungju!

08.25.19 Prashant gave a talk at the ACS Fall 2019 National meeting where he discussed the unusual chemical reactions that we find from single-nanoparticle-level studies to occur on a plasmonic catalyst. Many thanks to Julie Biteen, Emilie Ringe, and Justin Sambur for organizing a stimulating symposium on Optical and Electron Imaging of Reactive Chemical Systems!

08.02.19 Prashant gave a talk on harvesting plasmons in the form of energy-rich C-C and C-H bonds and the ultimate test of plasmonic photocatalysis at the GRC on Plasmonically Powered Processes in Hong Kong link and at the University of Hong Kong.

07.23.19 Prashant will receive the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE), as announced by a White House press release. link Thank you to the National Science Foundation for the nomination.

07.23.19 Cuprous sulfide nanocrystals can be engineered with internal twin boundaries and, as a result, a stable super-ionic phase well below room temperature. These findings, which provide insight into the impact of controllably introduced defects in nanocrystals are published in Nature Communications. link  and featured in a Editors' highlight. link Congratulations to Jianxiao on the publication of her comprehensive studies!

07.13.19 See our new Jain Lab pic from the group picnic at Kickapoo State Park!

​06.28.19 A collaborative paper with the Weilin Xu group at Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry describes the fundamental characteristics of a redox reaction determined at the single-molecule level. This paper will appear in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B. link

06.19.19  Prashant gave a plenary lecture at the International Conference on Enhanced Spectroscopies about the lab’s findings from in-situ single-molecule-level surface-enhanced Raman scattering-based probing of a plasmonic catalyst in action. Thanks to François Lagugné-Labarthet of Western University in Ontario for bringing the community together.


05.27.19  Prashant discussed plasmonic multi-electron catalysis, mechanistic aspects of plasmonic catalysis, and plasmonic photosynthesis, in two symposia at the 235th Electrochemical Society Meeting. Thanks to Prof. Nick Wu, Prof. Imahori, and others for the opportunity to participate.


05.22.19  Illinois News Bureau press release features our work: Artificial photosynthesis transforms carbon dioxide into liquefiable fuels. link

05.07.19  Artificial photosynthesis of C1-C3 hydrocarbons becomes possible with a plasmonic Au nanoparticle catalyst and an ionic liquid. Our findings appear in an article in Nature Communications link and are featured in an Editors’ highlight on Energy Materials linkGreat work by Sungju!

05.01.19  Daniel to speak about computational investigations of novel crystal polymorphs and superionic conductors at the Beckman Institute Graduate Seminar Series today. link Dinu, Jianxiao, and Kihyun are off to the 2019 ACS Great Lakes regional meeting to give oral presentations on their work on label-free single-molecule imaging of photocatalytic reactions and structure-property relationships in superionic nanostructures.


04.30.19  With Xiongwu Kang and coworkers, we showed how plasmonic light excitation influences an electrocatalytic methanol oxidation reaction. This work is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie. link

04.29.19 Eric will be starting graduate school in chemical engineering at UC Berkeley in the Fall. Congratulations, Eric and thanks for your valuable contributions to the lab!

04.23.19. Copper selenide nanowires combine switchable plasmonic properties and super-ionic behavior with micron-scale length scales for ionic and photonic transport. Our development of these one-dimensional building blocks of future devices will be published in the journal Angewandte Chemie. link Congratulations to Kihyun on the publication of his results.

04.19.19  David received a John E. Gieseking Scholarship from the Department of Chemistry, which will enable him to perform research in our group full-time during the summer semester. Congratulations, David!

04.09.19  Prashant will receive the 2019 Beilby Medal and Prize in “recognition of substantial work of exceptional practical significance in applied materials science”. link Thank you to the Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining, and the Society of Chemical Industry for this recognition.


04.03.19 Prashant visited the Fitzpatrick Institute of Photonics link at Duke University to talk about the group’s work on plasmonic photosynthesis. Thanks to Prof. Jie Liu and others for the productive discussions.


03.21.19 Prashant has been selected to join the Defense Science Study Group (DSSG) of 2020-21 alongside 18 other science and engineering academics across the United States. The DSSG is a “program of education and study that introduces outstanding science and engineering professors to the United States’ security challenges and encourages them to apply their talents to these issues.” link


03.11.19  In-situ high-resolution electron microscopy gave us an unprecedented look at the spatiotemporal progression of the order-disorder phase transition in a super-ionic conductor. Our findings will be published in the journal Nature Communications. link Congratulations to Jaeyoung and co-authors Daniel and Progna on the publication of their work!


02.22.19 Congratulations to Dinu who has won the J.C. Martin Memorial Student Travel Award from the Department of Chemistry.  Thank you to the J. C. Martin Memorial Student Fund.

01.21.19 Chemistry World feature article 'Forcing reactions with plasmons' by Tim Wogan highlights our work on plasmonic chemistry. link

01.18.19  We welcome Chemistry junior Roma Frances Ripani, who joins us in our study of plasmonic catalysts.

01.14.19 The lab welcomes Dr. Jun Wang, who joins us as a postdoctoral scholar to study electrocatalytic reactions modulated by plasmonic excitations.

01.11.19  Daniel was selected to participate in the 2019 Winter School on Nanomaterials for Energy Storage and Conversion at Tel Aviv University. link

​01.01.19 Select lab highlights from 2018: Alumnus Dr. Youngsoo Kim started in his tenure-track position in S. Korea. Progna Banerjee graduated with a PhD in Physics and moved to a postdoc position at LBNL. We discovered that multi-electron reactions are catalyzed by plasmonic excitations. Our papers were cited 2300 times. We became part of the Energy and Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley and UIUC thanks to two grants from Shell.



12.20.18 We noticed an unusual lattice structure in some nanocrystals of copper selenide, a potential solid electrolyte: the copper ions arrange so that vacancy planes lie every 14 Angstroms. These findings are published in the journal Chemistry of Materials link and the new structure is available through the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Center. link Congratulations to Jaeyoung and Daniel for a successful collaboration between high-resolution electron microscopy and electronic structure simulations!


12.04.18  Congratulations to Dinumol Devasia on passing her PhD prelim examination, where she discussed single-nanoparticle-level probing of photocatalysis.

​11.27.18  Prashant listed among 2018 Highly Cited Researchers across all fields by Clarivate Analytics Web of Science. link UIUC News Bureau

10.29.18  Stanley Bram, first year materials chemistry graduate student and Roger Adams fellow joins our group to study artificial photosynthesis. Welcome Stanley!


10.29.18 We are part of a team led by Prof. Renske van der Veen to receive funding for major research instrumentation from NSF. link We are excited to begin in-situ time-resolved mapping of catalysts in action using the newly equipped dynamic TEM at the Materials Research Lab. Francis Alcorn, first year materials chemistry graduate student and Springborn fellow joins our collaborative effort with the van der Veen Lab. Welcome Frank!


10.23.18 Prashant visited the Chemistry department at Texas A&M University where he discussed the lab’s recent work on fixing carbon using plasmonic catalysts.


10.05.18 Congratulations to Dr. Progna Banerjee (PhD in Physics, 2018) who will soon start in a new position as a postdoctoral scholar at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. We are thankful for her contributions, the latest of which, on the sulfidation of small ZnO nanoparticles, will be published in RSC Advances. link


08.11.08 Graduate student Alex Kurzhals was interviewed by C&EN for the story on “How I made my grad school choices”. link


08.17.08 Our lab is one of three to receive the first Chemistry Discovery Fund award. link Thank you to Drs. Ving and May Lee for their support and generosity. This award will help us explore light-driven nitrogen fixation.

08.08.18 Using surface enhanced Raman scattering, we watched the process of CO2 reduction on single nanoparticles of a silver photocatalyst. We managed to capture the critical intermediate in the process and obtain insights into mechanistic pathways for CO2 photoconversion. These results are now published in the journal ACS Nano. link Congratulations to Gayatri and the rest of the team! Prashant discussed this work in an invited talk at the 256th ACS National Meeting in the Symposium on Technical Developments & Applications of Optical Chemical Imaging.


08.02.18 Under visible-light excitation, graphene fragments are woven from ethylene on the surface of a plasmonic Ag catalyst. Our finding is published in Nature Communications link and also highlighted by the Editors. link Congratulations to Xueqiang and the rest of the team!


07.27.18  Our postdoctoral alumnus Youngsoo Kim will start his faculty position at Yeungnam University in S. Korea. Congratulations and best wishes to Prof. Kim! 


07.23.18  The Department of Chemistry awarded Dinu the Sloan Chemical Prize and Alex the Mark Pytosh Fellowship in recognition of their academic accomplishments. Congratulations to Dinu and Alex!


07.20.18 Prashant becomes a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) for our lab's contribution to the chemical sciences.


06. 22.18 Plasmonic nanoparticle antennas enhance multi-exciton generation in nearby quantum dots and photocatalyze multi-electron chemistry that is otherwise not possible. Our work performed with the Amirav group at Technion will be published in Nano Letters. link


06.11.18 Prashant discussed carbon fixation by gold nanoparticle photocatalysts at the Tata Instiute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.

06.08.18 Prashant completed a mini-tour of China pic visiting the Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Nanjing University, and South China University of Technology. Thanks to all his gracious faculty and student hosts for the all-round stimulating scientific and cultural experience.

06.03.18   A high concentration of lithium can be incorporated into nanocrystals of the solid electrolyte copper selenide. Our findings, which has implications for Li battery electrolytes, appear in the journal Angewandte Chemie. link Congratulations to first author, Progna!

05.29.18 Prashant selected among List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students for both courses (Statistical Thermodynamics and Physical Chemistry Lab) he taught this semester. For Stat Thermo (Chem 44), he received a score of 5.0/5.0.

05.18.18 Our work on light-driven multi-electron chemistry is featured by the Illinois News Bureau link and highlighted by NSF (Science360 Now link) and several other science media (see Science Daily article).

05.07.18 Not only can plasmonic nanoparticles function as photoredox catalysts, under the right conditions, they can photocatalyze multi-electron, multi-proton redox chemistry. Our findings appear in Nature Chemistry, link where we discuss the principles that govern the harvesting of multiple electron–hole pairs from these photocatalysts. Congratulations to first author Dr. Youngsoo Kim, who is now a Research Professor at IBS-Yonsei.


04.19.18 Congratulations to Progna, who has successfully defended her dissertation and is now to be Dr. Progna Banerjee, PhD in Physics.

04.12.18 We used surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to watch how the oxygen evolving complex of Photosystem II splits water under visible light excitation. Our findings are published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. link Congratulations to first author, Andrew Wilson!

​04.04.18 Congratulations to Progna, who has been selected to receive one of the Scott Anderson Outstanding Graduate Assistant Awards in Physics for 2018. The award is named after Dr. Scott Anderson, an Illinois alumnus, who founded Anderson Physics Laboratories in Urbana in 1944. In addition to a monetary award, Progna's name will be added to the list of award winners on display in the hallway of Loomis Laboratory.

04.02.18 Localized surface plasmons can be imaged in real space with nanometer resolution using an STM coupled to a laser. Our work in collaboration with Martin Gruebele and Joe Lyding’s STM team is published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. link Congrats to first authors, Huy and Progna!

02.20.18 Compressive strain stabilizes superionic conduction in materials that have promise in lithium battery electrolytes. Our electronic structure findings of this phenomenon appear in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. link Congratulations to first author, Daniel!


​02.18.18 Prashant discussed the lab's recent insights into CO2 photoconversion on plasmonic catalysts at the Frontiers in Photochemistry conference in Cancun, MX organized by photochemists Amanda Morris and Maria Abrahamsson. link

02.06.18 Plasmonic Au nanoparticles exhibit an intense visible-light absorption, an ability to catalytically activate the relatively inert molecule, CO2, and the capacity to sustain a highly charge-rich interface under light excitation. Au nanostructures are, therefore, able to function as photocatalysts for driving sunlight-mediated conversion of CO2 to hydrocarbon fuels such as methane and ethane. Our findings will appear in Nano Letters and will be featured on the front cover of the April issue. Congratulations to Sungju and rest of the team! link

01.18.18 We are excited to launch our programs on artificial photosynthesis and super-ionic conductors with $1.6M in funding from Shell/Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley and UIUC.

01.01.18 Our work was cited 2200 times in 2017.



12.19.17 Prashant participated in American Public Radio’s Brains On! podcast on the “science of batteries”.   link  

11.27.17 Ki-Hyun Cho (PhD, Korea U.) has joined us as a postdoctoral scholar. Welcome to the Jain group, Ki-Hyun!

11.20.17 Our work on superionic nanoclusters highlighted in cover story in India's Outlook Magazine link

11.15.17  Congratulations to Sungju who has won the Bronze Medal in the 2017 Samsung Electro-Mechanics Paper Award competition! He presented his work on "Plasmonic control of multi-electron transfer and C-C coupling in visible-light-driven CO2 reduction" at the competition held in S. Korea.

10.30.17 First-year inorganic chemistry graduate student Alex Kurzhals has joined our team to study light-mediated activation of inert molecules. Welcome, Alex!

10.27.17 Prashant named the Richard and Margaret Romano Professorial Scholar (eff. 2018). Thank you to the Romano trust and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their support!

10.05.17 Prashant visited Wabash college in Indiana. It was fun to meet with Chemistry undergraduates and talk about artificial photosynthesis and light-matter interactions.

09.29.17 Our website can now be browsed on mobile devices.

09.22.17 Visiting Professor Shengjie Xia from Zhejiang University of Technology joins us under the auspices of a one-year CSC scholarship. In addition, Ms. Junqi (Fressia) Peng, a Chemistry senior, joins us to work on artificial photosynthesis.

09.13.17 Congratulations to Daniel, who received the Dorothy M. and Earl S. Hoffman Travel Grant! 

09.07.17 Prashant gave the Early Career Award lecture on "plasmonic catalysts for artificial photosynthesis" at the AVS Prairie Chapter meeting in Milwaukee! 

09.05.17  Our perspective on plasmonic catalysts for artificial photosynthesis among most read articles of ACS Energy Letters. See the full list here

08.21.17 ACS Daily Show article on Prashant link

08.21.17 "Tuning photons into chemical bonds" - Prashant gave the Kavli Foundation Emerging Leader lecture at #ACSDC National Meeting. link

08.21.17 Congratulations to Dinu who received the Pytosh Fellowship and Daniel who received the Drickamer Fellowship from the Department of Chemistry!

07.21.17 Mercury selenide in its natural form is a semi-metal. But our lab synthesized this solid with a non-natural anisotropic crystal structure, which has properties of a 3D topological insulator: insulating in the bulk but conducting on the surface. This work by PhD student and solid-state theorist Daniel Dumett jointly with experimental work by physics PhD student Progna Banerjee will appear in the Chemistry of Materials. link

07.21.17 Progna and Dinu presented posters at the Monsanto Research Symposium held at UIUC. Progna won first prize for her top-notch work and presentation!

07.19.17 The group is bidding farewell to Mahima, who has completed her summer research with us as a Bose Scholar. We wish her the best for her remaining studies as IISER. Also, many congratulations to Progna, who received our Department of Physics's Graduate Student Travel Award for Fall 2017.


07.09.17 The Jain Lab welcomes Dr. Jianxiao Gong, link who joins us this month as a research associate. Jianxiao comes to us from Min Ouyang's group in the Physics department at the University of Maryland.


07.04.17 La Recherche magazine featured our work on the use of plasmonic nanocrystals in optical computing in its Jul-Aug 2017 issue. link


07.03.17 Prashant gave an invited talk on "advanced energy materials based on nanocrystals" at the 8th NaNaX nanocrystals conference held in Portugal. link

06.19.17 The Jain Lab welcomes postdoctoral position applications from recent PhD graduates with experience in electrochemistry.


06.03.17 The Jain Lab Summer Retreat took us on a hike through Allerton Park, IL. pic The group also bid a fond farewell to Gayatri.

05.24.17 Our most recent work on plasmonic catalysis will appear in ACS Catalysis. link Congratulations to first author and postdoctoral alumnus Youngsoo Kim, who is now a Research Scientist at the Yonsei-IBS, and co-author Andrew Wilson. We found that hot electrons generated on Au nanoparticles by plasmonic excitation can transport in an unconventional manner, crossing long, insulating spacers in a wire-like manner.

05.24.17 In recent work published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A, link we describe the in-situ spectroscopy of the formation of a bimetallic Au/Ag nanocatalyst. Single-nanoparticle-level spectroscopy revealed how kinetics dictates catalyst morphology. This article was invited for the 2017 Emerging Investigators Themed Issue. Congratulations to first author and PhD alumnus Jeremy Smith and co-author Alex Zhang!

05.09.17 The American Chemical Society selected Prashant as the Fred Kavli Emerging Leader in Chemistry, as part of which Prashant will present the Kavli lecture at the ACS National Meeting in Washington D.C. in Aug 2017. Thank you to ACS for this honor! The list of past speakers is here. link

05.09.17 Prashant is one of eleven scholars to receive the Campus Distinguished Promotion Award from UIUC. Prashant will be I. C. Gunsalus Scholar and Associate Professor of Chemistry, effective Aug 2017.

05.09.17 Prashant was selected to receive the 2017 American Vacuum Society Prairie Chapter Early Career Award link for his discoveries of collective phenomena in nanostructured materials. The award will be presented at the Prairie Chapter Fall Symposium to be held at Discovery World Science Museum, Milwaukee, WI in Sep 2017, where Prashant will make a presentation on his work. Thank you, Prairie Chapter!

05.09.17 We are excited to be joined by Ms. Mahima Unnikrishnan, an undergraduate student of IISER, who received a Bose scholarship to spend the summer with us performing research on carbon dioxide photoreduction. Welcome, Mahima!

05.01.17 Prashant was interviewed by La Recherche link, France's monthly science magazine about the use of nanocrystals as building blocks in future optical computing.

04.02.17 Prashant is headed to the Spring ACS meeting in San Francisco. link With Cathy Murphy, he co-organized the PHYS division symposium on Plasmonic Nanomaterials: From Physical Chemistry Fundamentals to Societal Impact. There are many exciting speakers lined up, so check out the symposium on Wed and Thu.

03.07.17 Smithsonian Magazine highlighted our work on super-ionic electrolytes in a story by Nathan Hurst on the future of rechargeable batteries. Check it out: link

03.01.17 Our super-ionic cluster materials and their potential as solid-state electrolytes featured in UIUC Press release link and stories at multiple science news sites. R&D AzoNano CEMag

02.19.17 Although copper selenide is super-ionic only at high temperatures, small clusters of copper selenide have an unusual structure making them super-ionic at room temperature. Our finding is published in Nature Communications. link Congratulations to authors, Sarah and Progna!

02.06.17 We were awarded a second patent (US 9,561,488) on nanostructured zinc oxide sorbents for cleaning out polluting organosulfur from fuels like natural gas.

01.04.17 Prashant listed among UIUC Teachers Ranked as Excellent for the fourth consecutive year, this time by his physical chemistry lab course students.

01.01.17 As we welcome the year 2017, Kudos to the research group for many milestones in 2016: we graduated 3 PhDs, welcomed 4 postdocs and 2 graduate students, made some exciting new discoveries in materials science and catalysis, expanded our outreach of nanoDDSCAT to nearly a 1000 global users, and had our work cited over 2000 times this year.


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