Naomi Halas

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Naomi Halas
Citizenship United States
Fields Biological engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Institutions Rice University
Education La Salle University,
Bryn Mawr College
Known for Nanophotonics
Notable awards DoD Cancer Innovator

Naomi J. Halas is the Stanley C. Moore professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, professor of Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics & Astronomy, and director of Laboratory for Nanophotonics at Rice University. She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2009), National Academy of Sciences (2013) and National Academy of Engineering (2014).

She is a Fellow of five professional societies: the Optical Society, the American Physical Society, the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her current work focuses on nanoshells which her nanophotonics group is developing at Rice University. In 1987, she was part of a team that developed a "dark pulse" soliton while working for IBM.


Early career[edit]

Halas received her bachelor's degree from La Salle University in 1980. She obtained her master's degree from Bryn Mawr College in 1984 and her doctorate from Bryn Mawr in 1986.

She was working for IBM in 1987 when she developed a "dark pulse" soliton with Dieter Kroekel, Giampiero Giuliani and Daniel Grischkowsky. A "dark pulse" soliton is a standing wave that propagates through an optical fiber without spreading and which consists of a short interruption of a light pulse.


Halas was recruited to Rice University by the mid-1990s where she now heads the Nanoenginering Unit bearing her name. Her work in the 21st century focuses on noble metal nanoshells covering semiconducting or insulating cores. A nanoshell is a 100 nanometer spherical shell of metal (often gold) surrounding a core of silicon dioxide atoms.

Halas's unit is investigating the special properties of nanoshells including:

  • a potential treatment for cancer similar to chemotherapy but without the toxic side-effects;
  • inexpensive, quick analysis of samples as small as a single molecule.

Halas has received a "Cancer Innovator" from the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs of the US Department of Defence. The Department of Defence granted Halas and Dr. Jennifer West $3 million to conduct research into the potential of this treatment. Nanotechnology Now awarded Halas and West the award for Best Discovery of 2003.

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