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Biography

David Richards is a Professor of Physics. He was Head of the Department of Physics from 2007 to 2015 and Vice-Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Natural, Mathematical &Engineering Sciences from 2014 to 2022. He was King's lead for the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Award 2016-2021. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and from 2013-15 was Chair of the UK Standing Conference of Physics Professors (now known as the Heads of Physics Forum).

David holds MA and PhD degrees in physics from the University of Cambridge. Before moving to King’s College London in 2000, he worked as a research fellow in the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics, Freiburg and in the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, where he held fellowships from St. John’s College Cambridge and Lloyds’s of London Tercentenary Foundation, and then a Royal Society University Research Fellowship.

David's past research has been concerned with optical spectroscopy and imaging, particularly fluorescence and Raman scattering, with a focus on nano- and bio-photonics. His past research has included the study of the electronic and optical properties of semiconductor nanostructures, in particular providing insight through Raman spectroscopy into the properties of plasmons and spin excitations in low-dimensional electron gases. Research in nanophotonics has also included the development, theory and application of scanning near-field optical microscopy, including the development of 'tip-enhanced' Raman and fluorescence microscopy, leading in turn to a focus on surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and the manipulation of fluorescence using plasmonic nanostructures. This has previously included application in fluorescence biological cell imaging for novel cellular screening assays, while other interests in biophotonics have included the development of ultra-broadband coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) imaging.

In technology transfer, David was also a co-founder of start-up Genapta Ltd (subsequently sold in a trade-sale), which developed a microfluidic fluorescence assay system for drug discovery.

Research

David's current research interests are in the area of plasmonics, in particular the development of plasmonic nanomaterials with a focus on their potential application in photocatalysis. When light interacts with a plasmonic nanostructure, it can excite collective oscillations called surface plasmons, which enable efficient use of electromagnetic radiation over a broad wavelength range from the ultraviolet to the infrared, with large electromagnetic fields enhancements in the vicinity of the nanostructure. Some of the light energy stored in these surface plasmons can be re-emitted as light but some can also decay into an electron-hole pair – an energetic, "hot" carrier. If these hot carriers can be extracted from the plasmonic nanostructure efficiently, they can be used to drive novel photochemical reactions. David is a member of the Reactive Plasmonics (RPLAS) EPSRC Programme led by Professor Anatoly Zayats.