Steven Emory , PhD

Professor of Analytical Chemistry & Director of Scientific Technical Services

Research Interests

My research group focuses on the characterization and use of novel metal and semiconductor nanomaterials in the development of new ultrasensitive chemical methods of detection and identification. In the past decade, numerous techniques, such as laser-induced fluorescence (LIF), have demonstrated the capability of detecting single analyte molecules. However, these techniques do not often provide sufficiently detailed structural information necessary for chemical identification. For example, LIF measurements yield little structural information while also requiring a fluorescent label that suffers from rapid photobleaching. Recent research has developed two new methods of detection that can overcome some of these drawbacks: (1) surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) on colloidal metal nanoparticles and (2) luminescent semiconductor nanocrystals (i.e., quantum dots). This research is interdisciplinary by nature and therefore exposes students to various aspects of laser spectroscopy, microscopy, biochemistry, molecular biology, photophysics, and materials science.

Educational & Professional Experience

  • B.S. California Lutheran University, 1993.
  • Ph.D. Indiana University, 1999.
  • Director Funded Postdoctoral Fellow, Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1999-2001.
  • Faculty Co-Advisor, WWU Student ACS Chapter, 2006-present.
  • Visiting Fellow, Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology, 2008-2009.
  • Director, Advanced Materials Science & Engineering Center, 2011-2013.
  • International Professor for Undergraduate Research, Nanjing University, China 2017-2018.
  • Interim Director, Scientific Technical Services, 2020-2021.
  • ACS Puget Sound Section Alt Councilor, 2023-2025. 
  • Director, Scientific Technical Services, 2021-present.

Selected Awards & Honors

  • Peter J. Elich Excellence in Teaching Award, Western Washington University, 2018.
  • Team Recognition Award for Advanced Materials Science & Engineering Center, Western Washington University, 2010.
  • Procter & Gamble Lectureship, Colorado State University, 2006.
  • Camille & Henry Dreyfus Faculty Start-Up Award, Dreyfus Foundation 2001.
  • Brian Andreen Cottrell College Science Award, Research Corporation, 2001.
  • Director Funded Postdoctoral Fellowship, Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1999 – 2001.

Recent Publications

  1. Wang, J.; Dai, J.; Yang, X.; Yu, X.; Emory, S. R.; Yong, X.; Xu, J.; Mei, L.; Xie, J.; Han, N.; Zhangef, X.; Ruan, G. "Intracellular targeted delivery of quantum dots with extraordinary performance enabled by a novel nanomaterial design," Nanoscale 2019, 11, 552. 
  2. Wang, M.; Hoff, A.; Doebler, J. E.; Emory, S. R.; Bao, Y. “Dumbbell-like silica coated gold nanorods and their plasmonic properties,” Langmuir 2019, 51, 16886.
  3. Raymond, E. A.; Emory, S. R. "Developing a science demonstration show outreach program," Building and Maintaining Award-Winning ACS Student Member Chapters Volume 3 2018, 1278, 73. 
  4. Yong, X.; Yang, X.; Emory, S. R.; Wang, J.; Dai, J.; Yu, X.; Mei, L.*; Xie, J.; Ruan, G. “A potent, minimally invasive and simple strategy of enhancing intracellular targeted delivery of Tat peptide-​conjugated quantum dots: organic solvent-​based permeation enhancer,” Biomaterials Science 2018, 6, 3085.
  5. Curtis, T.; Taylor, A. K.; Alden, S. E.; Swanson, C.; Lo, J.; Knight, L.; Silva, A.; Gates, B. D.; Emory, S. R.; Rider, D. A. “Synthesis and characterization of tunable, pH-​responsive nanoparticle-​microgel composites for surface-​enhanced Raman scattering detection,” ACS Omega 2018, 3, 10572.
  6. Emory, S. R.; Raymond, E. A. "Key components of a successful and sustainable student chapter at a public-regional university," Building and Maintaining Award-Winning ACS Student Member Chapters Volume 1: Holistic Viewpoints 2016, 1229, 15.
  7. Qian, X. M.; Emory, S. R.; Nie, S. “Anchoring molecular chromophores to colloidal gold nanocrystals: surface-enhanced Raman evidence for strong electronic coupling and irreversible structural locking,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 2000.
  8. Jensen, R. A.; Sherin, J.; Emory, S. R. “Single nanoparticle based optical pH probe,” Appl. Spectrosc. 2007, 61, 8322.
  9. McMahon, J. M.; Emory, S. R. "Phase transfer of large gold nanoparticles to organic solvents with increased stability," Langmuir 2007, 23, 1414.
  10. Emory, S. R.; Jensen, R. A.; Wenda, T.; Han, M.; Nie, S. "Re-examining the origins of spectral blinking in single-molecule and single-nanoparticle SERS," Faraday Discussions 2006, 132, 249.
  11. Keller, R. A.; Ambrose, W. P.; Arias, A. A.; Cai, H.; Emory, S. R.; Goodwin, P. M.; Jett, J. M. "Analytical applications of single-molecule detection," Anal. Chem. 2002, 74, 316A.