Research Fellows Directory
Dr Aliaksandra Rakovich AFHEA
King's College London
Light harvesting plays an essential role in our lives. Being the primary step of photosynthesis, it is a widely occurring phenomenon in nature, which has helped sustain life for millions of years. In man-made systems, it is of critical importance in food industry, (solar) energy production and sensing applications. Technologies employing light-harvesting will be key for a sustainable future, and so materials capable of this process are of great significance in current research.
In the early 1980s, it was discovered that small, nanometre-sized, metallic particles are able to collect light and concentrate it to very small volumes – these properties have made them one of the most widely considered new materials for light-harvesting applications. Their potential, however, has not been realised due to the large losses due to the heating, typical for their metallic composition. Therefore, great interest exists in trying to overcome, or at least mitigate some of these losses.
Interestingly, natural light-harvesting systems elements of the photosynthetic systems are not composed from efficient elements – it is their unique structure on scales 1/1000th of the width of human hair that makes them efficient. My research revolves around the idea that these principles can be translated from the natural system to the man-made systems containing metallic nanoparticles. That is, by using similar unique structure and more efficient elements, the overall efficiency of these light-harvesting systems can be improved.
If realised, the improvements would allow integration of metallic nanoparticles into sensing platforms, which can find applications in quality monitoring in agriculture, early diagnosis of diseases and airport security.