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  • Professor Martin Moskovits
    03/29/18 - 9:45 AM to 11:00 AM

    Moscowitz Memorial Lecture: Professor Martin Moskovits

    Albert J. Moscowitz Memorial Lecture

"Plasmon-assisted artificial photosynthesis"

In the near future, when we manage to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, we will also need to develop sustainable alternatives, preferably ultimately based on solar conversion, for the petrochemicals that currently provide us with our polymers and plastics, solvents, and pharmaceuticals, among our many other chemical necessities. At that point in time, solar electricity will likely have become a major component of our electrical supply, decreasing the price of electricity especially during daylight hours when supply outpaces demand. This, in turn, may encourage the formation of industries that capitalize on cheap electricity to create valuable chemical products electrochemically, as a more valuable option to massive resources of passive storage. What if one could capitalize on solar energy in multiple ways, for example, by using solar-generated electricity to carry out electrochemistry while simultaneously illuminating the catalyst to further enhance its activity and/or direct the reaction towards desirable products. Several groups have showed over the past half dozen years that a number of catalytic reactions can be accelerated when carried out on catalysts composed, for example, of copper, silver or palladium that can sustain surface plasmons when illuminated. The plasmons ultimately decay into energetic electrons and holes that can actively participate both directly in redox chemistry, or, as adjuvants that enhance the catalytic efficacy of these metals. The presentation will discuss the prospects of such plasmon-mediated photochemistry.

Professor Moskovits

Martin Moskovits is professor of chemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he also served as Susan & Bruce Worster Dean of Science (2000-07). From 2007-10, he served as chief technology officer of API Technologies, specializing in advanced electronics, magnetics and nanoptics for defense and communication applications, and was president of its NanoOpto subsidiary. From 2011-12, he was senior vice president for Academic Affairs at The City College of New York. He was a founder of Spectra Fluidics, dedicated to developing sensors based on microfluidics. He has degrees in physics and chemistry from the University of Toronto, where he received his doctorate in 1971. From 1973-2000, he was a professor and chair (1993-99) of the Department of Chemistry at the  University of Toronto. From 2000-05, he was founding director of the program in Nanoelectronics for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He is an award-winning scientist who has contributed much to his profession through published articles, patents, and invited talks.

Professor Moskovits is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Fellow of the Optical Society of America; Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; former member, and past Vice Chair of the US Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee 2001-2010. He was Guggenheim Fellow in 1987; 1993 Gerhard Herzberg Award of the Spectroscopy Society of Canada; 1993 Royal Society of Chemistry (London) award in Surface and Colloid Science; 1995 Johannes Marcus Marci Medal of the Czech Spectroscopy Society; 2008 NanoTech Briefs, Nano 50 Innovator award; 2010 Ellis Lippincott Award of the Optical Society of America.


The research carried out in Professor Moskovits’ group falls into two broad categories: (i) plasmonics and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), and (ii) nanowire synthesis and nanowire-based sensing. In plasmonics, there two major goals—create plasmonic analogs of photovoltaics and photosynthetic systems. Recently, researchers produced the first device ever reported that uses the electrons resulting from the decay of plasmons in gold nanorods to reduce hydrogen ions in water, and the positive charges left behind to oxidize water to oxygen gas. The device is a free running cell floating in water with light as its sole energy source. Surface plasmons are collective conduction electron excitations in that occur in nanostructured metals and some other conductors. SERS is also a plasmonic phenomenon. The excitation of plasmons concentrate electromagnetic radiation in nanometer-sized volume “hot spots.” Molecules located in hot spots can produce enormously enhanced spectra. Moskovits pursues a number of research avenues by combining microfluidics with SERS spectroscopy.

Albert J. Moscowitz Memorial Lectureship

The Albert J. Moscowitz Memorial Lectureship in Chemistry was established by friends and colleagues of Professor Albert J. Moscowitz (1929-1996) to honor his many contributions to molecular spectroscopy. He was known for his research on the interpretation of optical rotation and circular dichroism spectra in terms of the structures of chiral molecules. In collaboration with colleagues in the medical sciences, he developed important applications of his methods to biomedical systems. Throughout his career, Moscowitz held numerous visiting professorships at other universities, and served on the editorial boards of the leading journals in chemical physics. His work was honored by election as Foreign Member of the Danish Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters, and as a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Past Albert J. Moscowitz lecturers include Bruce Berne, Columbia University (2000), R. Stephen Berry, University of Chicago (1998), Jean-Luc Bredas, University of Arizona (2002), Mike Duncan, University of Georgia (2010), Crim F. Fleming, University of Wisconsin (2006), C. Daniel Frisbie, University of Minnesota (1999), Mike Frisch, Gaussian (2008), Anthony Legon, University of Bristol (2013), Marsha Lester, University of Pennsylvania (2011), Frank Neese, Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion (2014), Stuart Rice, University of Chicago (2000), Peter Rossky, University of Chicago (2006), Giacinto Scoles, University of Princeton (2004), Benjamin Schwartz, University of California, Los Angeles (2007), Hirata So, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (2011), Walter Thiel, Max Plank Institute, Muelhiem (2002), Zhen-Gang Wang, CalTech (2014), Georg Kresse, University of Vienna (2016), and Emily A. Carter, Princeton University (2017).

  • Event Details

    Location: 331 Smith Hall
    Host: Professor Renee Frontiera
    • Professor Martin Moskovits
    • Martin Moskovits
    • Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
    • University of California, Santa Barbara