Jeong-Eun Park is a postdoctoral fellow in the Odom Group, which focuses on controlling materials at the 100-nanometer scale and investigating their size and shape-dependent properties.
Where are you originally from?
I’m from Busan, the second largest city in Korea, located in the south.
Where did you complete your undergraduate degree?
I obtained my B.S. in Chemistry from Pusan National University, and my Ph.D. in Chemistry at Seoul National University.
When did you first become interested in chemistry, and how did that lead you to your current work on nanoplasmonics?
In my childhood, I became very interested in natural sciences, realizing how the world around me can be understood in the language of science. During the one of my 11th grade chemistry classes, I suddenly found myself feeling how exciting it was to learn chemistry. That led me to study nanoscience.
How do you explain what you study to non-scientists?
In everyday life, what we perceive with our eyes is because of their interactions with light. My research is focused on light-matter interactions at the very small scale, where their interactions behave differently from what we normally know.
What are you most excited about in your current research?
Light has been one of the tools that allowed us to understand materials and derive the desired properties of a particular material. In my current research, by making matter strongly interact with light, we can modify its properties!
For example, I’m using plasmonic nanoparticle lattices and perovskites. The plasmonic lattices work as a platform to strongly concentrate light in a nanometer scale, so when perovskites are integrated with the lattices, strong coupling between light and perovskites can be achieved. In this strong coupling regime, we can make exciton-polaritons, a hybrid form of photons and excitons. Due to the mixed light-matter properties, the lifetime of polaritons can be significantly shortened compared to uncoupled excitons, or the nonlinear optical properties of perovskites can be greatly improved, which can be utilized in the development of optoelectronic devices — such as LEDs and solar cells — or ultra-efficient lasers.
What has been a highlight of your time at Northwestern?
Almost every moment counts, but if I had to choose one, it would be the times when I take a walk around the lakeshore and feel the seasons changing.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your work or your time at Northwestern?
It might be the current covid-19 situation. But it’s not just me, everybody would feel the similar things. So I will live here and now, and do what I can do.
Can you tell me about your experiences either being mentored or mentoring others?
When I was mentoring others, I tried to communicate with them and listen to what they say. Sometime, if I focused too much on it, I would lose the big picture. So these days, I want to balance between clearly conveying our direction and paying attention to the details.
What are your hobbies outside of the lab?
I enjoy watching independent movies, visiting music clubs and galleries, and swimming.