Dr. Yaakov Tischler is a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry. He is also the Director of the Molecular Photonics Laboratory in the Bar Ilan Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA). Dr. Tischler came to Bar Ilan from MIT as part of the 2009 cohort of returning scientists, a special program within Bar Ilan University to recruit young Israeli scientists to return to work in Israel.
As one of the world’s foremost experts in molecular photonics, Tischler combines his knowledge and skills in two distinct fields of research—physical chemistry and materials science. Under his direction, the lab is conducting experiments in coherent excitonic coupling using semiconductor microcavity lasers. They also synthesize organic ultra-thin films, layers of carbon-based materials which range in thickness from 1 molecule to about 100 molecules.
In Tischler’s lab, the team is engaged in studying fundamental interactions between light and matter. They believe these investigations will lead to deep insights into the way that nano-materials exchange energy with light, and they expect to arrive at new solutions to important scientific and technological challenges.
The interactions between light and matter can occur so quickly that rapid detection mechanisms are often required. The light-based methods used in Tischler’s laboratory are effective for characterizing chemical reactions – in particular, the reactions that take place in the presence of catalysts.
Tischler’s team uses ultra-fast laser spectroscopy to characterize the properties of light-activated materials arranged in films only one molecular layer thick, and he has shown that such “monolayers” generate enhanced optical signals. This discovery may lead to improved sensors for a variety of applications. In addition, they are working on the development of next-generation nano-lasers for the promotion and control of chemical catalysis.
Tischler and his researchers are among the world’s experts in creating organic materials for next generation solar cells. They study energy-transfer dynamics in J-aggregates and light-harvesting materials. In the lab, researchers also use lasers to make various materials emit light and to catalyze chemical reactions.
Tischler and his team are pioneering new technologies to save and improve lives. Some of this technology has applications that will touch everyday lives, such as explosives detectors to increase security in public spaces or solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Research applications of Tischler’s work include sequencing DNA and tuning lasers to frequencies across the visible spectrum. Some of these developments are patent-pending and licensed by the Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) display industry.
A key project in Tischler’s lab has been the building of nano-scale lasers. This project has sparked interest from students in Israel and from some of the most prestigious institutes in the world, including MIT. One of the lab’s highlights has been building these lasers and then investigating the lasers’ behavior at temperatures as low as -196° C.