Personal profile

Personal profile

Prof. Prashant Jain earned an undergraduate degree in polymer engineering. Because of his strong interest in physics and chemistry, he switched disciplines when he started graduate school at Georgia Tech. With M. A. El-Sayed at Georgia Tech, Prof. Jain investigated the flow of energy and charge carriers in photoexcited metal nanoparticles using ultrafast spectroscopy and theoretical electrodynamics. Following his PhD, Prof. Jain moved to Harvard as the first postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Adam E. Cohen and helped launch a research program on magneto-optical and chiro-optical phenomena. An offer of a prestigious Miller Research Fellowship took Prof. Jain to UC Berkeley, where he studied quantum dots in the lab of Paul Alivisatos.

Prof. Jain directs a laboratory on nanoscale light-matter interactions at UIUC, where he is the G. L. Clark Professor of Physical Chemistry. He is also a University Scholar, Professor of the Materials Research Lab, and an affiliate faculty member of Physics and Illinois Quantum Information Science and Engineering (IQUIST). His lab is best known for using concentrated photons for artificial photosynthesis, inducing emergent chemical reactivity, and for probing the molecular-level functioning of catalysts. His lab has also discovered new  phases that exist only on the nanoscale and expanded plasmon resonances to non-metallic nanostructures.

Prof. Jain teaches graduate & undergraduate physical chemistry for which he has received recognition, including the LAS Dean's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teachibg, School of Chemical Sciences Faculty Teaching Award, and a mention on UIUC's Teachers Ranked as Excellent list for every course he has taught. He is the lead developer of nanoDDSCAT & nanoDDSCAT+, an open-source computational toolkit for nano-optics and photonics, which has been used to launch over 800,000 simulations by users across the world. Prof. Jain is a member of the Editorial Advisory Boards of JACS and Journal of Chemical Physics. He currently serves on the faculty hiring and promotion committee and as the Diversity Advocate for the department. He has previously served as Associate Head of Major Projects in the Department of Chemistry and Chair of the Chemical Physics PhD program. Prof. Jain has published over 116 peer-reviewed journal articles and given over 120 invited/award/keynote/plenary lectures. His research has been cited 32,000 times and featured in the science media. 

Research Interests

Quantum light-matter interactions: experiment and theory; superresolution vibrational spectroscopy; chemistry under quantized excitations; mechanisms of energy and charge flow on the nanoscale; plasmonics; photophysics and photochemistry; phase transitions on the nanoscale

Professional Information

Light-matter interactions are central in nature, life, and in technology. There are three aspects of the quantum light-matter interface that we study using spectroscopy, microscopy, and theory:
i) We employ the rich interplay between visible light and metal catalysts for selective formation of chemical bonds, catalyzing multielectron chemistry, and manufacturing fuels and energetic chemicals.
ii) We image with unprecedented resolution chemical reactions on surfaces or in nanoparticles and uncover their mechanistic pathways.
iii) We design materials and coax them into exhibiting non-natural optical or optoelectronic phenomena.
In summary, we are learning how to control and harness light as a source of energy and as a means to control the attributes and function of advanced materials.

We are a diverse team with interest and expertise in catalysis, spectroscopy, materials science, and condensed matter physics. The tools we use include single-molecule spectroscopy, nanochemistry, high-resolution electron microscopy, plasmonics, and theory. The systems we investigate range from artificial photosynthetic systems to nanophotonic switches. Our research has had direct impact on the follow areas:
Photosynthesis and Energy Conversion: Driving multielectron fuel-forming reactions by plasmonic light excitation.
Catalysis: Discovering active sites and reaction pathways of catalysts by super-resolution imaging.
Nanoscience: Discovery of unconventional excitations, phases, and transport in nanocrystals.

Prospective postdoctoral researchers, graduate students who have been admitted to a program at UIUC, undergraduate students at UIUC, and collaborators interested in the above research projects are welcome to contact us.

Honors & Awards

Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2024)
LAS Dean's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2024)
Akron American Chemical Society (ACS) Award (2023)
Endowed G. L. Clark Professor of Physical Chemistry (2023)
Elected Fellow of the American Physical Society (2022)
Guggenheim Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2022)
University Scholar (2022)
Center for Advanced Studies Associate (2022)
Leo Hendrik Baekeland Medal, American Chemical Society, North Jersey Section (2021)
Kavli Fellow, National Academy of Sciences (2021)
Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists Finalist Medal (2020,21,&23)
Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2020)
Science News Magazine Ten Scientists to Watch, SN10 (2020)
Alumni Research Scholar (2020)
Campus Distinguished Promotion Award (2020)
Defense Science Study Group (2020-22)
Beilby Medal and Prize (2019)
Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (2019)
Discovery Fund Award, Department of Chemistry (2018)
Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2018)
Highly Cited Researcher, Clarivate Analytics (2018)
Richard and Margaret Romano Professorial Scholar (2018-)
American Vacuum Society Prairie Chapter Early Career Award (2017)
Campus Distinguished Promotion Award, UIUC (2017)
Center for Advanced Studies Beckman Fellow (2017)
I. C. Gunsalus Scholar (2017-18)
Kavli Emerging Leader in Chemistry and Lectureship, ACS (2017)
Most Cited Researchers in ChemE as per Elsevier Scopus (2016)
3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award (2015)
Journal of Physical Chemistry C Lectureship (2015)
National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2015)
School of Chemical Sciences Faculty Teaching Award (2015)
Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (2014)
American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Award (2014)
Arnold and Mabel O. Beckman Young Investigator Award (2014)
Dupont Young Professor Award (2013)
Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students (Fall 12, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22; Spring 14, 15, 18, 20, 21)

Office Address

Department of Chemistry
University of Illinois
A224 CLSL, Box 16-6
600 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Office Phone


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