Jen Dionne's research investigates metamaterials - engineered materials with optical and electrical properties not found in nature. She is especially interested in plasmonic and colloidal nanocrystal-based metamaterials, including their fundamental electrodynamic properties and applications to solar energy and bioimaging. Active research areas in her group include visible-frequency metamaterials for subwavelength light manipulation, enhanced photovoltaics and photocatalysis, and active neuronal imaging.

Academic Appointments

Honors & Awards

  • CAREER Award, National Science Foundation (2011)
  • Gold Award, Materials Research Society (2008)
  • Francis Clauser Prize, Clauser family (2009)
  • Robert Noyce Family Faculty Fellow, Robert Noyce Scholarship & Fellowship Programs (2010)
  • Frederick E. Terman Fellow, Stanford University (2010)
  • Young Investigator, Air Force Office of Scientific Research (2010)

Professional Education

  • PhD, California Institute of Technology, Applied Physics (2009)
  • MS, California Institute of Technology, Applied Physics (2005)
  • BS, Washington University in St. Louis, Physics (2003)
  • BS, Washington University in St. Louis, Systems Science and Mathematics (2003)

2016-17 Courses

All Publications

  • Subwavelength-scale plasmon waveguides Surface Plasmon Photonics Atwater, H., Dionne, J., Sweatlock, L. edited by Brongersma, M., L., Kik, P., G. Dordrecht, NL: Springer. : 87-104
  • Parity-time-symmetric plasmonic metamaterials PHYSICAL REVIEW A Alaeian, H., Dionne, J. A. 2014; 89 (3)
  • Non-Hermitian nanophotonic and plasmonic waveguides PHYSICAL REVIEW B Alaeian, H., Dionne, J. A. 2014; 89 (7)
  • A Metafluid Exhibiting Strong Optical Magnetism NANO LETTERS Sheikholeslami, S. N., Alaeian, H., Koh, A. L., Dionne, J. A. 2013; 13 (9): 4137-4141


    Advances in the field of metamaterials have enabled unprecedented control of light-matter interactions. Metamaterial constituents support high-frequency electric and magnetic dipoles, which can be used as building blocks for new materials capable of negative refraction, electromagnetic cloaking, strong visible-frequency circular dichroism, and enhancing magnetic or chiral transitions in ions and molecules. While all metamaterials to date have existed in the solid-state, considerable interest has emerged in designing a colloidal metamaterial or "metafluid". Such metafluids would combine the advantages of solution-based processing with facile integration into conventional optical components. Here we demonstrate the colloidal synthesis of an isotropic metafluid that exhibits a strong magnetic response at visible frequencies. Protein-antibody interactions are used to direct the solution-phase self-assembly of discrete metamolecules comprised of silver nanoparticles tightly packed around a single dielectric core. The electric and magnetic response of individual metamolecules and the bulk metamaterial solution are directly probed with optical scattering and spectroscopy. Effective medium calculations indicate that the bulk metamaterial exhibits a negative effective permeability and a negative refractive index at modest fill factors. This metafluid can be synthesized in large-quantity and high-quality and may accelerate development of advanced nanophotonic and metamaterial devices.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/nl401642z

    View details for Web of Science ID 000330158900027

    View details for PubMedID 23919764

  • Surface-enhanced circular dichroism spectroscopy mediated by nonchiral nanoantennas PHYSICAL REVIEW B Garcia-Etxarri, A., Dionne, J. A. 2013; 87 (23)
  • NANOPLASMONICS Plasmons rock in metal bands NATURE MATERIALS Dionne, J. A. 2013; 12 (5): 380-381

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nmat3607

    View details for Web of Science ID 000317954800003

    View details for PubMedID 23503013

  • A Broadband Negative Index Metamaterial at Optical Frequencies ADVANCED OPTICAL MATERIALS Atre, A. C., Garcia-Etxarri, A., Alaeian, H., Dionne, J. A. 2013; 1 (4): 327-333
  • Narrow-bandwidth solar upconversion: Case studies of existing systems and generalized fundamental limits JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS Briggs, J. A., Atre, A. C., Dionne, J. A. 2013; 113 (12)

    View details for DOI 10.1063/1.4796092

    View details for Web of Science ID 000316967800061

  • Observation of Quantum Tunneling between Two Plasmonic Nanoparticles NANO LETTERS Scholl, J. A., Garcia-Etxarri, A., Koh, A. L., Dionne, J. A. 2013; 13 (2): 564-569


    The plasmon resonances of two closely spaced metallic particles have enabled applications including single-molecule sensing and spectroscopy, novel nanoantennas, molecular rulers, and nonlinear optical devices. In a classical electrodynamic context, the strength of such dimer plasmon resonances increases monotonically as the particle gap size decreases. In contrast, a quantum mechanical framework predicts that electron tunneling will strongly diminish the dimer plasmon strength for subnanometer-scale separations. Here, we directly observe the plasmon resonances of coupled metallic nanoparticles as their gap size is reduced to atomic dimensions. Using the electron beam of a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM), we manipulate pairs of ~10-nm-diameter spherical silver nanoparticles on a substrate, controlling their convergence and eventual coalescence into a single nanosphere. We simultaneously employ electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) to observe the dynamic plasmonic properties of these dimers before and after particle contact. As separations are reduced from 7 nm, the dominant dipolar peak exhibits a redshift consistent with classical calculations. However, gaps smaller than ~0.5 nm cause this mode to exhibit a reduced intensity consistent with quantum theories that incorporate electron tunneling. As the particles overlap, the bonding dipolar mode disappears and is replaced by a dipolar charge transfer mode. Our dynamic imaging, manipulation, and spectroscopy of nanostructures enables the first full spectral mapping of dimer plasmon evolution and may provide new avenues for in situ nanoassembly and analysis in the quantum regime.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/nl304078v

    View details for Web of Science ID 000315079500040

    View details for PubMedID 23245286

  • Plasmons rock in metal bands Nature Materials 12 Dionne, J. 2013: 380
  • Toward Efficient Optical Trapping of Sub-10-nm Particles with Coaxial Plasmonic Apertures NANO LETTERS Saleh, A. A., Dionne, J. A. 2012; 12 (11): 5581-5586


    Optical trapping using focused laser beams has emerged as a powerful tool in the biological and physical sciences. However, scaling this technique to nanosized objects remains challenging due to the diffraction limit of light and the high power levels required for nanoscale trapping. In this paper, we propose plasmonic coaxial apertures as low-power optical traps for nanosized specimens. The illumination of a coaxial aperture with a linearly polarized plane wave generates a dual optical trapping potential well. We theoretically show that this potential can stably trap dielectric particles smaller than 10 nm in diameter while keeping the trapping power level below 20 mW. By tapering the thickness of the coaxial dielectric channel, trapping can be extended to sub-2-nm particles. The proposed structures may enable optical trapping and manipulation of dielectric particles ranging from single proteins to small molecules with sizes previously inaccessible.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/nl302627c

    View details for Web of Science ID 000311244400023

    View details for PubMedID 23035765

  • Plasmonics: Metal-worthy methods and materials in nanophotonics MRS BULLETIN Dionne, J. A., Atwater, H. A. 2012; 37 (8): 717-724
  • Plasmon nanoparticle superlattices as optical-frequency magnetic metamaterials OPTICS EXPRESS Alaeian, H., Dionne, J. A. 2012; 20 (14): 15781-15796


    Nanocrystal superlattices have emerged as a new platform for bottom-up metamaterial design, but their optical properties are largely unknown. Here, we investigate their emergent optical properties using a generalized semi-analytic, full-field solver based on rigorous coupled wave analysis. Attention is given to superlattices composed of noble metal and dielectric nanoparticles in unary and binary arrays. By varying the nanoparticle size, shape, separation, and lattice geometry, we demonstrate the broad tunability of superlattice optical properties. Superlattices composed of spherical or octahedral nanoparticles in cubic and AB(2) arrays exhibit magnetic permeabilities tunable between 0.2 and 1.7, despite having non-magnetic constituents. The retrieved optical parameters are nearly polarization and angle-independent over a broad range of incident angles. Accordingly, nanocrystal superlattices behave as isotropic bulk metamaterials. Their tunable permittivities, permeabilities, and emergent magnetism may enable new, bottom-up metamaterials and negative index materials at visible frequencies.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000306176100110

    View details for PubMedID 22772268

  • Opportunities and Challenges of Using Plasmonic Components in Nanophotonic Architectures IEEE JOURNAL ON EMERGING AND SELECTED TOPICS IN CIRCUITS AND SYSTEMS Wassel, H. M., Dai, D., Tiwari, M., Valamehr, J. K., Theogarajan, L., Dionne, J., Chong, F. T., Sherwood, T. 2012; 2 (2): 154-168
  • Quantum plasmon resonances of individual metallic nanoparticles NATURE Scholl, J. A., Koh, A. L., Dionne, J. A. 2012; 483 (7390): 421-U68


    The plasmon resonances of metallic nanoparticles have received considerable attention for their applications in nanophotonics, biology, sensing, spectroscopy and solar energy harvesting. Although thoroughly characterized for spheres larger than ten nanometres in diameter, the plasmonic properties of particles in the quantum size regime have been historically difficult to describe owing to weak optical scattering, metal-ligand interactions, and inhomogeneity in ensemble measurements. Such difficulties have precluded probing and controlling the plasmonic properties of quantum-sized particles in many natural and engineered processes, notably catalysis. Here we investigate the plasmon resonances of individual ligand-free silver nanoparticles using aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope (TEM) imaging and monochromated scanning TEM electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS). This technique allows direct correlation between a particle's geometry and its plasmon resonance. As the nanoparticle diameter decreases from 20 nanometres to less than two nanometres, the plasmon resonance shifts to higher energy by 0.5 electronvolts, a substantial deviation from classical predictions. We present an analytical quantum mechanical model that describes this shift due to a change in particle permittivity. Our results highlight the quantum plasmonic properties of small metallic nanospheres, with direct application to understanding and exploiting catalytically active and biologically relevant nanoparticles.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature10904

    View details for Web of Science ID 000301771200034

    View details for PubMedID 22437611

  • Toward high-efficiency solar upconversion with plasmonic nanostructures JOURNAL OF OPTICS Atre, A. C., Garcia-Etxarri, A., Alaeian, H., Dionne, J. A. 2012; 14 (2)
  • Optimized light absorption in Si wire array solar cells JOURNAL OF OPTICS Alaeian, H., Atre, A. C., Dionne, J. A. 2012; 14 (2)
  • Waveguides with a silver lining: Low threshold gain and giant modal gain in active cylindrical and coaxial plasmonic devices PHYSICAL REVIEW B Saleh, A. A., Dionne, J. A. 2012; 85 (4)
  • Mirror, Mirror Physics 5 Dionne, J. 2012: 38
  • Controlling the Interplay of Electric and Magnetic Modes via Fano-like Plasmon Resonances NANO LETTERS Sheikholeslami, S. N., Garcia-Etxarri, A., Dionne, J. A. 2011; 11 (9): 3927-3934


    Assemblies of strongly coupled plasmonic nanoparticles can support highly tunable electric and magnetic resonances in the visible spectrum. In this Letter, we theoretically demonstrate Fano-like interference effects between the fields radiated by the electric and magnetic modes of symmetric nanoparticle trimers. Breaking the symmetry of the trimer system leads to a strong interaction between the modes. The near and far-field electromagnetic properties of the broken symmetry trimer are tunable across a large spectral range. We exploit this Fano-like effect to demonstrate spatial and temporal control of the localized electromagnetic hotspots in the plasmonic trimer.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/nl202143j

    View details for Web of Science ID 000294790200072

    View details for PubMedID 21819059

  • Realistic upconverter-enhanced solar cells with non-ideal absorption and recombination efficiencies JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS Atre, A. C., Dionne, J. A. 2011; 110 (3)

    View details for DOI 10.1063/1.3610522

    View details for Web of Science ID 000293956600144

  • Giving photovoltaics the green light: Plasmon-enhanced upconversion for broadband solar absorption 2011 IEEE PHOTONICS CONFERENCE (PHO) Dionne, J. A., Atre, A., Alaeian, H., Garcia, A. 2011: 447-448
  • Observations of shape-dependent hydrogen uptake trajectories from single nanocrystals JACS Communications Tang, M., L., Liu, N., Dionne, J., Alivisatos, A., P. 2011
  • Si-based plasmonics for on-chip photonics invited review, Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics Dionne, J., Sweatlock, L., Sheldon, M., Alivisatos, A., P., Atwater, H. 2010; 16: 295
  • PlasMOStor: a metal-oxide-silicon field-effect plasmonic modulator Nano Letters 9 Dionne, J., Diest, K., Sweatlock, L., Atwater, H. 2009: 897
  • Flatland Photonics: Circumventing diffraction with planar plasmonic architectures Caltech Thesis Dionne, J. 2009
  • Tunable color filters based on metal-insulator-metal resonators Nano Letters 9 Diest, K., Dionne, J., Spain, M., Atwater, H. 2009: 2579
  • Are negative index materials achievable with surface plasmon waveguides? A case study of three plasmonic geometries Optics Express 16 Dionne, J., Verhagen, E., Polman, A., Atwater, H. 2008: 19001
  • Near field visualization of strongly confined surface plasmon polaritons in metal-insulator-metal waveguides Nano Letters 8 Verhagen, E., Dionne, J., Kuipers, K., Atwater, H., Polman, A. 2008: 2925
  • Silver diffusion bonding and layer transfer of lithium niobate to silver Applied Physics Letters 93 Diest, K., Archer, M., Dionne, J., Czubakowski, M., Atwater, H. 2008: 092906
  • Negative refraction at visible frequencies Science 316 Lezec, H., Dionne, J., Atwater, H. 2007: 430
  • Highly confined photon transport in subwavelength metallic slot waveguides NanoLetters 6 Dionne, J., Lezec, H., Atwater, H. 2006: 1928
  • Plasmon slot waveguides: Towards chip-scale propagation with subwavelenth-scale localization Phys. Rev. B 73 Dionne, J., Sweatlock, L., Polman, A., Atwater, H. 2006: 035407
  • Planar metal plasmon waveguides: frequency-dependent dispersion, propagation, localization, and loss beyond the free electron model Phys. Rev. B 72 Dionne, J., Sweatlock, L., Polman, A., Atwater, H. 2005: 075405
  • The new ‘PN junction’: Plasmonics enables photonic access to the nanoworld MRS Bulletin Atwater, H., Maier, S., Polman, A., Dionne, J., Sweatlock, L. 2005: 30