Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Materials Science & Engineering

First Advisor

Cherie R. Kagan

Second Advisor

Christopher B. Murray


The construction of materials from nanocrystal building blocks represents a powerful new paradigm for materials design. Just as nature’s materials orchestrate intricate combinations of atoms from the library of the periodic table, nanocrystal “metamaterials” integrate individual nanocrystals into larger architectures with emergent collective properties. The individual nanocrystal “meta-atoms” that make up these materials are themselves each a nanoscale atomic system with tailorable size, shape, and elemental composition, enabling the creation of hierarchical materials with predesigned structure at multiple length scales. However, an improved fundamental understanding of the interactions among individual nanocrystals is needed in order to translate this structural control into enhanced functionality. The ability to form precise arrangements of nanocrystals and measure their collective properties is therefore essential for the continued development of nanocrystal metamaterials. In this dissertation, we utilize template-assisted self-assembly and spatially-resolved spectroscopy to form and characterize individual nanocrystal oligomers. At the intersection of “top-down” and “bottom-up” nanoscale patterning schemes, template-assisted self-assembly combines the design freedom of lithography with the chemical control of colloidal synthesis to achieve unique nanocrystal configurations. Here, we employ shape-selective templates to assemble new plasmonic structures, including heterodimers of Au nanorods and upconversion phosphors, a series of hexagonally-packed Au nanocrystal oligomers, and triangular formations of Au nanorods. Through experimental analysis and numerical simulation, we elucidate the means through which inter-nanocrystal coupling imparts collective optical properties to the plasmonic assemblies. Our self-assembly and measurement strategy offers a versatile platform for exploring optical interactions in a wide range of material systems and application areas.

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