Justin Sambur awarded the 2017 Norman Edmund Inspiration Award

Justin Sambur, Ph.D in lab

Posted: November 10th, 2017

Justin Sambur, Ph.D in labAssistant Professor Justin Sambur was recently awarded with the 2017 Norman Edmund Inspiration Award. Justin’s proposed project uses light sheet microscopy to directly visualize solar energy conversion processes along the length of a single nanowire. The long-term goal of this project is to inform materials scientists on how to synthesize the optimal electrode architecture for solar energy conversion applications. To inspire the next generation of scientists to engage in optics and nanoscience, Sambur and his team have developed a LEGO microscope that uses a smart phone camera to image single fluorescent nanoparticles. “Seeing is believing,” said Sambur. “However, it is impossible for K-12 and most undergraduate science students to see nanoscale materials because they lack sophisticated imaging capabilities.” The students learn first-hand the challenges associated with “seeing” single nanoparticles using visible light. His team developed step-by-step instructions that shows students how to determine the smart phone camera pixel size using a conventional metric ruler. Most importantly, the activity exposes young students to optical concepts and gives them hands-on experience using optical components, ultimately providing them with the rewarding experience of building a fully-functional optical microscope for nanoparticle imaging.


The Norman Edmund Inspiration Award honors the contributions made by Norman Edmund to advance the science of optics. The recipient of the award is chosen from among the 30 global finalists of the 2017 Educational Award in the Americas and Europe, who best represent the legacy of Mr. Edmund. The award also allows Justin to spend $5,000 towards optical components.

Congratulations Justin!