Research in the Wustholz Group

Uncovering the optical and structural properties of chromophores in environments that are inherently complex for applications to solar energy conversion, art conservation, and super-resolution imaging.

Electron transfer (ET) processes dictate the efficiency of materials and devices that are used to harness solar energy. We investigate the ET kinetics in organic-dye-sensitized systems for solar energy conversion. By employing single-molecule spectroscopy (SMS), we can probe the full distribution of ET behavior occurring at the heterogeneous dye-semiconductor interface. These studies are supported by robust statistical analysis and computational modeling.

Owing to its exquisite sensitivity and selectivity, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is increasingly used to study cultural heritage objects. In collaboration with the paintings conservation lab at the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, we design and develop new SERS-based methods to identify fugitive (fading) pigments in precious works of art. These results have inspired us to pursue new avenues in chemical and biological sensing.

Super-Resolution Imaging

By overcoming the diffraction limit of light, super-resolution imaging can elucidate biological and materials structures and processes at unprecedented resolution. Many super-resolution approaches require single molecules that undergo switching between emissive (on) and non-emissive (off) events. We are developing a new approach to multicolor super-resolution imaging to expand the palette of available probes using both experimental and machine learning approaches.