Peter J. Pauzauskie

Associate Professor
MSE Graduate Program Coordinator


  • Ph.D., Physical Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley, 2007
  • B.S., Chemical Engineering, Kansas State University, 2002
  • B.S., Chemistry and Mathematics, Kansas State University, 2002

Research Statement

Just as the 20th century was the century of the electron, the 21st century will be the century of the photon. Optical fibers already form the backbone of the internet-based information-economy as recognized by the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics. In the biological sciences, laser-induced fluorescence has been a pivotal technology employed both in sequencing the human genome and in achieving near-molecular resolution with optical imaging.

Nanometer-scale optoelectronic materials have attracted a great amount of attention in recent years for use in biomedical cancer-research as fluorescent probes, in hyperthermal cancer therapy, and in tracking the molecular-scale chemical processes that make life possible. One-dimensional NWs are a critical link between the micron-scale world of individual cells and the nanoscale domain of single macromolecules given NWs’ micron-scale lengths and cross sections frequently below 10 nanometers. Additionally, interesting physical phenomena emerge at nanometer length scales. For instance, highly focused laser radiation can exert optical forces on inorganic nanostructures, providing contact-free 3-dimensional control over the particle's center of mass.

Research projects are focused squarely on the emerging field of Nanoscale Opto-Mechanical Systems (NOMS) to pursue challenging experimental questions in the molecular engineering of advanced materials for biosensors and nanomedicine. Experimental efforts are aimed at answering the question, "How can optomechanical materials be used to control molecular interactions at nanometer length scales?" The group's initial experimental efforts are directed at the molecular surface functionalization of photonic nanowires for parallel subwavelength biosensing as well as the optoelectronic patterning of nanomaterials for the control of chemical reactions.

Group members employ a number of experimental and computational techniques including organometallic chemical vapor deposition for vapor-liquid-solid nanowire synthesis, air-sensitive solution phase synthesis of ternary inorganic nanocrystals, x-ray diffraction, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, synchrotron radiation (NEXAFS, STXM, XRD), time correlated single photon counting, Raman spectroscopy, cryogenic visible and near-infrared photoluminescence, cell culturing, nonlinear least squares data analysis, as well as finite element computational methods for the design and simulation of optoelectronic nanostructures.


Patent Number: WO2007079411 A3
Publication date: 2007-10-18

Patent Number: WO2005067547 A3
Publication date: 2006-05-04

Patent Number: WO2005110057 A3
Publication date: 2006-04-27

Current projects

Investigation of inorganic nano-structures for photothermal applications

Significant research effort has been made towards the development of nanoscale materials for targeted cancer hyperthermia.  This approach relies first on engineering the nanomaterials to bind selectively to cancer tissue by designing the morphology and surface of the material to enhance permeability and uptake. Near-infrared lasers are used to heat the particles to create local thermal damage that hinders angiogenesis and DNA-repair within tumor tissue. Gold nanoparticles have strong near-infrared surface plasmon absorption which leads to substantial heating of subcutaneous tumors. It is possible to superheat aqueous buffers to over 200°C above the boiling point of water at atmospheric pressure due to extremely large Young-Laplace surface pressures arising from the interplay between tremendous curvature on surface tension at nanometer length scales. Research in the Pauzauskie lab is focused on the design, synthesis, and experimental characterization of biocompatible nanomaterials for targeted photothermal therapies.

Select publications

  1. Optomechanical Thermometry of Nanoribbon Cantilevers, Pant, Anupum; Smith, Bennett; Crane, Matthew; Zhou, Xuezhe; Lim, Matthew; Frazier, Stuart; Davis, E.; Pauzauskie, Peter, The Journal of Physical Chemistry C (2018) (accepted).
  2. Copper- and Chloride-Mediated Synthesis and Optoelectronic Trapping of Ultra-High Aspect Ratio Palladium Nanowires, Lim, M.B., Hanson, J.L., Vandsburger, L., Roder, P.B., Zhou, X., Smith, B.E., Ohuchi, F.S., Pauzauskie, P.J. Journal of Materials Chemistry A (2018) (Mar 03, 2018).
  3. Patterning of Graphene Oxide with Optoelectronic Tweezers, Lim, M.B., Smith, B.E., Zhou, X., Pauzauskie, P.J. (2017) (in submission)
  4. Scale-up of high specific activity 186gRe production using graphite-encased thick 186W targets and demonstration of an efficient target recycling process, Balkin, E.R., Gagnon, K., Dorman, E., Emery, R., Li, Y., Wooten, A.L., Smith, B.E., Strong, K.T., Pauzauskie, P.J., Fassbender, M.E. and Cutler, C.S., Radiochimica Acta (2017) (Aug 18, 2017).
  5. Photothermal effects during nanodiamond synthesis from a carbon aerogel in a laser-heated diamond anvil cell, Crane, M.J., Smith, B.E., Meisenheimer, P.B., Zhou, X., Stroud, R.M., Davis, E.J., Pauzauskie, P.J. (2017) (in review) Link:
  6. Rapid synthesis of transition metal dichalcogenide–carbon aerogel composites for supercapacitor electrodes. Crane, M.J. and Lim, M.B., Zhou, X., Pauzauskie, P.J. Natutre Microsystems and Nanoengineering (2017) (Jul 17, 2017).
  7. Laser refrigeration of rare-earth doped sodium-yttrium-fluoride nanowires. Zhou, X., Roder, P.B., Smith, B.E., Pauzauskie, P.J. Proc. SPIE 10121, Optical and Electronic Cooling of Solids II, 1012103 (Feb 17, 2017).
  8. Chitosan-Gated Magnetic-Responsive Nanocarrier for Dual-Modal Optical Imaging, Switchable Drug Release, and Synergistic Therapy. Wang, H., Mu, X., Revia, R., Wang, K., Zhou, X., Pauzauskie, P.J., Zhou, S., Zhang, M. Advanced Healthcare Materials (2017) 1601080.
  9. Photothermal heating of nanoribbons, Smith, B.E., Zhou, X., Davis, E.J., Pauzauskie, P.J. Optical Engineering (2017) 56:011111.
  10. Pulsed Photothermal Heating of One-Dimensional Nanostructures. Roder, P.B., Manandhar, S., Devaraj, A., Perea, D.E., Davis, E.J., Pauzauskie, P.J. J. Phys. Chem. C (2016) 120:21730-21739.
  11. Deuteron irradiation of W and WO3 for production of high specific activity 186Re: Challenges associated with thick target preparation. Balkin, E.R., Gagnon, K., Dorman, E.F., Emery, R., Smith, B.E., Pauzauskie, P.J., Fassbender, M.E., Cutler, C.S., Ketring, A.R., Jurisson, S., Wilbur, D.S. Appl. Radiat. Isot. (2016) 115:197-207.
  12. Laser refrigeration of ytterbium-doped sodium-yttrium-fluoride nanocrystals, Zhou, X., Smith, B.E., Roder, P.B., Pauzauskie, P.J. Adv. Mater. (2016)
  13. Accelerator-Based Production of the 99mTc-186Re Diagnostic-Therapeutic Pair using Metal Disulfide Targets (MoS2, WS2, OsS2). Gott M.D., Hayes C.R., Wycoff, D.E., Balkin E.R., Smith B.E., Pauzauskie P.J., Fassbender, M.E., Cutler, C.S., Ketring, A.R., Wilbur, D.S., Jurisson, S. (2016) Appl. Radiat. Isot. 114:159-166
  14. Recovery of Si-IV nanowires from extreme GPa pressure, Smith, B.E., Zhou, X., Roder, P.B., Abramson, E.H., Pauzauskie, P.J. (2016) J. Appl. Phys. 119(18):185902
  15. Laser refrigeration of optically-trapped hydrothermal nanocrystals in physiological media, Roder*, P.B., Smith*, B.E., Zhou*, X., Crane, M.J., Pauzauskie, P.J. (2015) PNAS, 112(49):15024-15029
  16. Hot Brownian thermometry and cavity-enhanced harmonic generation with nonlinear optical nanowires. Smith*, B.E., Roder*, P.B., Zhou, X., Pauzauskie, P.J. (2015) Chem. Phys. Lett. 639:310-314. (invited feature article), (cover highlight)
  17. Ultrafast sol-gel synthesis of graphene aerogel materials. Lim, M.B., Hu, M., Manandhar, S., Sakshaug, A., Strong, A., Riley, L., Pauzauskie, P.J.; (2015) Carbon 95:616-624.
  18. Photothermal superheating of water with ion-implanted silicon nanowires. Roder, P.B., Manandhar, S., Smith, B.E., Zhou, X., Shutthanandan, V., Pauzauskie, P.J. (2015) Adv. Opt. Mater. 3(10):1362-1367.
  19. Singlet-oxygen generation from individual semiconducting and metallic nanostructures during near-infrared laser trapping. Smith, B.E., Roder, P.B., Hanson, J.L., Manandhar, S., Devaraj, A., Perea, D.E., Kim, W.J., Kilcoyne, A.L.D., Pauzauskie, P.J. (2015) ACS Photonics 2:559-564.
  20. Nanoscale materials for hyperthermal theranostics. Smith, B.E., Roder, P.B., Zhou, X.Z., Pauzauskie, P.J. (2015) Nanoscale 7:7115-7126. (invited review article)
  21. Mass transport in nanowire synthesis: an overview of scalable nanomanufacturing. Crane, M.J., Pauzauskie, P.J., (2015) J. Mater. Sci. Technol. 31:523-532. (invited review)
  22. Rapid sol-gel synthesis of nanodiamond aerogel. Manandhar, S., Roder, P.B., Hanson, J.L., Lim, M.B., Smith, B.E., Mann, A., Pauzauskie, P.J., (2014) J. Mater. Res. 29:2905-2911. (invited feature article)
  23. Photothermal Heating of Nanowires. Roder, P.B., Smith, B.E., Davis, E.J., Pauzauskie, P.J. (2014) J. Phys. Chem. C, 118:1407-1416.