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Principal Investigator

Justus C. Ndukaife (Ph.D.), Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering


Justus Ndukaife is an accomplished researcher, educator, and innovator in the field of Optics and Nanophotonics. He earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, following his MSc degree from Purdue Northwest and a BSc degree with First Class Honors from the University of Lagos, Nigeria.

Dr. Ndukaife’s research revolves around optical nanotweezers enabled by cutting-edge nanophotonics technologies, including plasmonics and resonant dielectric metasurfaces. His work has focused on single extracellular vesicle analysis and enhancing on-chip quantum light sources. His exceptional work on optical nanotweezers has been published in top peer-reviewed journals, including Nature Nanotechnology, Science, Nature Communications, ACS Nano, ACS Photonics, Nanoscale, and Nano Letters. Dr. Ndukaife is also an inventor of seven US patents on optical nanotweezers, underscoring his commitment to practical applications of his research.

The impact of Dr. Ndukaife’s work has been widely recognized, earning him several prestigious awards and honors. Notably, he received a global Rising Stars of Light award in 2020, and his iCANX talk on Optical Nanotweezers research captured the attention of over 260,000 viewers worldwide. Among his numerous accolades are the NIH MIRA R35 Outstanding Investigator Award, NSF CAREER award, 2023 Kaminow Outstanding Early Career Professional Prize, Vanderbilt Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research, the Year 2017 Prize in Physics from the Dimitris N. Chorafas Foundation, the Purdue College of Engineering Outstanding Research Award, NSBE Golden Torch Award, Best Paper Award at the ASME conference, a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Award, and elevation to a Senior Member position at IEEE.
As a mentor, Dr. Ndukaife has played a pivotal role in shaping the success of students in optics and photonics both locally and internationally. His Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Award enabled him to engage in outreach activities, promoting the field of nanophotonics among students in West-Africa and making it more accessible to students from diverse backgrounds.
His dedication to mentoring has led to his students receiving multiple meritorious awards, including the C.F. Chen Best Paper Award in Electrical Engineering, Overall Best Paper Awards across Vanderbilt School of Engineering, Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and the Material Science program, and International Young Scientist Fellowship. Dr. Ndukaife’s passion for advancing the field and empowering students exemplifies his commitment to scientific progress and mentorship.

Research Focus

Professor Ndukaife’s research is at the interface between the fields of nanophotonics (which involves the confinement and manipulation of light at the deeply subwavelength scale) and microfluidics. Professor Ndukaife’s interdisciplinary research is focused on optical nanotweezers enabled by nanophotonics including plasmonics and resonant dielectric metasurfaces for single extracellular vesicle analysis, as well as for the enhancement of on-chip quantum light sources.