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A Golden Time for Nanotechnology

Portrait of Dr. Catherine Murphy, guest speaker
Prof. Catherine J. Murphy
Larry R. Faulkner Endowed Chair in Chemistry
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
iSTEM Building 2, Room 1218
Special Information:
2024 UGA Chemistry Alumni Lecture
Departmental Colloquium
Special Seminar

Gold nanocrystals of controlled size and shape have tunable optical properties that enable new science.  Upon illumination with resonant light, these gold nanocrystals can not only scatter light but also generate plasmons (coherent oscillations of conduction band electrons).  These plasmons, in turn, can produce local electric fields and heat.  All these modalities mean that gold nanocrystals can serve as excellent contrast and imaging agents in aqueous matrices. In this talk I will describe the synthesis and shape control of these nanocrystals; absolute measurements of their absorption and scattering, and their ability to deliver photoelectrons; details of their surface chemistry; their ability to function as molecular sensors and light-triggered delivery agents; and how these nanocrystals impact biological systems at the protein, cell, and ecosystem levels.

Biography: Cathy Murphy earned B.S. degrees in chemistry and biochemistry from UIUC in 1986 (and performed undergraduate research with Tom Rauchfuss in organometallic chemistry), her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1990 (on the topic of semiconductor photoluminescence, with Art Ellis), and from 1990-1993 was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology (working on electron transfer through DNA, with Jackie Barton). She started her independent career at the University of South Carolina, and was the first woman hired on the tenure track in chemistry and biochemistry there in 1993.  After rising through the ranks at South Carolina, she was recruited back to UIUC in 2009.  Murphy’s honors include the 2020 ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry, the 2019 Remsen Award, the 2019 Linus Pauling Medal, the 2019 MRS Medal, and many others. In 2015, she was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and in 2019, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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