Materials Chemistry


The interest in the understanding of small size, high surface area materials has increased in the last years due to their extraordinary electronic, optical, and catalytic properties. Since these properties are both size and shape dependent, new different ways of preparation are in great demand in order to control these two parameters. So far, the generation of nanostructures has been explored using laser ablation, arc-discharge, electron irradiation, Redox reactions and catalytic processes. Now we are proposing a method using nonlinear optics which hasn’t been explored very much to the present. Furthermore, we are also interested in understanding the interaction of different type of nanoparticles with organic and inorganic molecules and their effect on their physical-chemical and optical properties. Our final goal is to design new systems for drug delivery, biological, chemical and explosive nanosensors, catalysis, and corrosion.

  • Noninvasive Glucose Detection: Using gold nanoparticles, Florencio Hernández and his research team can noninvasively detect low levels of glucose in human tears.
  • Nano-Electrochemistry: Díaz’s Group deals with electrochemistry and materials chemistry in nanoscale science and technology. In particular, this research focuses on using electrochemistry to create nanostructured surfaces and in the sensing and optoelectronic applications of nanostructured surfaces.
  • Imaging and Spectroscopy: Imaging and Spectroscopy of Nanoscale Materials and Biological Systems
  • Photolithography: Of particular interest are methods for patterning materials on nanometer and micrometer length scales, techniques for three-dimensional (3D) nano- and micro-fabrication, and the development of new nano-composite materials having useful optical and electronic function.
  • Purifying mercury-polluted water: Using tiny pieces of gold and the properties of light, scientists can now quickly and inexpensively detect even trace amounts of the pollutant. In the near future, this process can be used to create water filters and reclaim contaminated water.
  • Polypeptide Nano-Templating: We are investigating the use of patterned folded polypeptides for templating the deposition of a second material into a target 3D nano-scale form.
  • Nanoparticle Technologies: This research focuses on the development of nanoparticle technologies and their application in nanomedicine, molecular imaging, and molecular diagnostics.


Photonics can be likened to electricity: Electricity uses electric current as a source of power, and photonics uses radiant energy, such as light. In other words, photonic applications use the photon in the same way that electronic ones use the electron. The UCF Chemistry Department is among the few academic departments, nationally, that researches photonic technology, and it is building one of the top-ranked photonic materials programs in the country.

  • Biophotonics: The Belfield research group conducts a comprehensive array of multiphoton biophotonics research, including developing probes and imaging techniques for angiogenesis imaging, early tumor detection, 3D virtual histology, and photodynamic therapy. We have pioneered two-photon absorbing target- selective probes and bioconjugates for in vitro and in vivo imaging, and routinely perform linear and nonlinear photophysical measurements as well as confocal and two-photon fluorescence imaging and FLIM.
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance Assisted Multi-Photon Absorption Processes: The study of surface Plasmon enhancement on multiphoton excitation processes and its effect decay mechanism of organic molecules have taken us to a leader position on the comprehension of organic molecules-metal nanoparticles hybrid systems with potential applications in state-of-the-art nano- and biophotonics.
  • Polarization Dependent White-Light Supercontinuum: Supercontinuum (SC) generation is among the most interesting nonlinear optical effects due to the complexity of the mechanisms responsible for its generation and its applications in optical pulse compression and time-resolved spectroscopy. We are engaged in the understanding of polarization dependence white-light super continuum (SC) generation in liquids.
  • Photonic Materials: The Kuebler Group develops chemistry and optical techniques for creating micro-/nano-scale photonic materials. We create new dielectric and metallic photonic crystals, characterize their properties, and find ways to integrate them into devices for new applications.
  • Two-Photon Absorption Circular Dichroism: In order to surmount the current limitations of traditional CD we have recently developed the double L-scan method to accurately measure 2PA-CD in chiral systems. This technique is only available in our group and performed in both, the pico- and femtosecond regime.
  • Study of the optical properties for metal clusters with nanometer-sized dimensions using theoretical tools: The interest of the Zou lab lies on the theoretical studies of the optical properties of nano-structured metal particles or films, the energy transfer between molecules and metal nano-particles and surface enhanced Raman scattering.
  • High-Density Data Storage: We pioneered the development of new materials for 3-D lithography and multilayer 3-D optical data storage and displays, resulting in seminal publications in the field and a number of patents.
  • Photodynamic Cancer Therapy: Photodynamic therapy works by injecting patient’s with light-sensitive cancer-fighting drugs. These chemicals disperse through the patient’s entire body, but remain inactive until they encounter a special light.
  • Artificial Muscles: Plastics that Change Shape: We are creating macromolecules (i.e., plastics) that change shape when exposed to magnetic fields. These artificial muscles will likely be used in next-generation miniaturized mechanical devices, like robots.