Rice University nanophotonics pioneer Naomi Halas has been named a National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow (NSSEFF) by the Department of Defense. Halas is one of just six fellows chosen from more than 650 nominees this year for the prestigious program.
The NSSEFF program provides grants of approximately $3 million in direct costs over five years to top-tier researchers from U.S. universities to conduct long-term, unclassified, basic research involving the most challenging technical issues facing the Department of Defense.
"This is an incredibly competitive program, and no one is more deserving of the honor and recognition than Dr. Halas," said Sallie Keller-McNulty, dean of engineering at Rice. "This grant will help her continue to expand upon her ground-breaking research on the optical properties of engineered nanostructures and enable her research to positively impact the safety and security of our country."
Halas is a world-renowned leader in the field of nano-optics and the inventor of metallic nanoshells, a class of nanoparticles that is being explored for dozens of potential applications, including a revolutionary new cancer treatment the entered human trials this year.
A past winner of the National Science Foundation's Young Investigator Award and a four-time winner of the Rice Engineering Alumni's Hershel M. Rich Invention Award, Halas is the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of Rice's Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP). Among her many honors, she received the Cancer Innovator Award from the congressionally directed medical research programs of the Department of Defense in 2003 and was named to Esquire magazine's "Best & Brightest" list in 2006.
Halas' winning proposal, "3D Nanophotonics: Bending Light in New Directions," encompasses a major, comprehensive research program designed to broaden and redefine the capabilities of engineered electromagnetic nanomaterials that interact with both infrared and visible light. Breakthroughs in the field could form the basis for everything from super-efficient solar power collectors to next-generation camouflage.
"The long-term impact of this research will profoundly change the way we design, make, use and think about optical materials," Halas said. "It's perfect timing that the Department of Defense has recognized the strategic importance of this line of research, and I look forward to the opportunity of pursuing these research goals."