Physics and Astronomy

Eugenii U. Donev

Assistant Professor of Physics
B.S. University of the South, M.S. & Ph.D. Vanderbilt University


Dr. Eugene Donev joined the Physics and Astronomy Department in the summer of 2013, ten years after graduating from Sewanee with majors in Physics and German. In the 2016-17 academic year, Dr. Donev is teaching Optics (PHYS 201), Advanced Laboratory (PHYS 305), Junior/Senior Seminar (PHYS 312/412), and Independent Study (PHYS 444). He enjoys involving students in his research on the optical properties of hybrid nanomaterials that combine plasmonic and phase-changing functionalities.

Current Research Interests            

  • Biologically-inspired nanophotonics for tunable structural coloration.
  • Nanoscale phase separation and size effects in correlated-electron materials.
  • Interactions of plasmonic nanostructures with illuminated scanning-probe tips.
  • Nanostructures with hybrid functionalities of surface plasmons and phase transitions.


Ph.D., Physics, Dec. 2008, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN:

  • Dissertation: Metal-Semiconductor Transitions in Nanoscale Vanadium Dioxide – Thin Films, Subwavelength Holes, and Nanoparticles
  • Faculty advisors: Leonard C. Feldman  &  Richard F. Haglund, Jr.

M.S., Physics, May 2006, Vanderbilt University.

B.S. (magna cum laude), Physics & German, May 2003, The University of the South, Sewanee, TN.

Professional Experience                   


  • Assistant Professor, Aug. 2013–present: Dept of Physics & Astronomy, University of the South.
  • Adjoint Assistant Professor, July 2014–July 2016: Dept of Physics & Astronomy, Vanderbilt University.
  • Research Associate, Oct. 2012–July 2013: Nano-Optical Materials Group (PI: R. Lopez), Dept of Physics & Astronomy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.
  • Research Associate, Sep. 2011–Oct. 2012: Electron Spectroscopy Group (Leader: P. D. Johnson), Dept of Condensed Matter Physics & Materials Science, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY.
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Nov. 2008–Sep. 2011: Hastings Research Group (PI: J. Todd Hastings), Dept of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Center for Nanoscale Science & Engineering, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Summer 2004–Fall 2008: Materials Physics Group (PI: L. C. Feldman) and Applied Optical Physics Group (PI: R. F. Haglund, Jr.), Dept of Physics & Astronomy and Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science & Engineering, Vanderbilt University.
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Fall 2003(7)–Spring 2004(8): Dept of Physics & Astronomy, Vanderbilt University.

Teaching & Mentoring

  • Optics, advanced laboratory, and capstone seminar for upper-level physics/pre-engineering students: 2016–17.
  • Lab-based introductory physics for life-sciences/pre-health and physics/pre-engineering students: 2013–16.
  • Undergraduate student research and capstone seminar projects:
    • Electron-beam deposition of vanadium oxides, 2016–17.
    • Micro-Raman spectroscopy, 2016–17.
    • Surface-plasmon resonance sensing, 2016–17.
    • Saturated absorption spectroscopy, 2016–17.
    • Raman spectroscopy: Speaker’s Choice poster award, Scholarship Sewanee, University of the South, 2016.
    • Plasmonic nanostructures: 1st place poster award, Scholarship Sewanee, University of the South, 2015.
    • Interference nanolithography: 1st place poster award, Scholarship Sewanee, University of the South, 2014.
    • Nano-optical simulations: Poster presentation, National Conference on Undergraduate Research, 2014.

Research Highlights

  • Helped to simulate via FDTD and fabricate via interference nanolithography potentially color-tunable ‘polymer butterflies’ inspired by the intricate photonic nanostructures on the wings of brilliantly blue Morpho butterflies.
  • Helped to set up and commission a unique scattering-type near-field microscope capable of achieving nanoscale (~15 nm) spatial resolution of local optical properties of materials at liquid-helium to ambient temperatures.
  • Helped to pioneer and develop LP-EBID, a novel direct-write technique for nanoscale deposition via electron-beam-induced decomposition of bulk liquid precursors, yielding nanostructures of high metal content.
  • Developed novel method for dynamical control of EOT (‘extraordinary optical transmission’) through arrays of nanoholes in noble metals using the metal-semiconductor transition of vanadium dioxide (VO2).
  • Used confocal Raman spectroscopy to probe, for the first time, the phase transition of individual VO2 nanoparticles.
  • Created hybrid Au+VO2 nanoparticles exhibiting size-dependent surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) as well as some of the smallest (~30 nm) lithographic VO2 nanoparticles.
  • Explored modulation of the plasmon resonance of VO2-coated Au nanoparticles as a function of VO2 phase (metallic/semiconducting), incident-light polarization, and particle size.
  • Established fabrication protocol for vanadium sesquioxide (V2O3) thin films, whose phase transition is very sensitive to small amounts of non-stoichiometry and impurities.

Awards & Honors                                

  • Advanced laboratory equipment grant: Jonathan F. Reichert Foundation, 2016.
  • Summer research grant: Research Opportunity Award, National Science Foundation, 2014.
  • Honored by Society of Sewanee Scholars for outstanding teaching, 2014.
  • 1st place posters, 5th & 8th Annual Nanoscience & Nanotechnology Forums, Vanderbilt University, 2004 & 2007.
  • Dissertation Enhancement Grant, Vanderbilt University, 2006.
  • William T. Allen Memorial Scholarship, University of the South, 2003.
  • Full international student scholarship, University of the South, 1999–2003.

Book Chapter

“Nanoscale Deposition and Etching of Materials Using Focused Electron Beams and Liquid Reactants”. In Liquid Cell Electron Microscopy, edited by Frances M. Ross, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Peer-Reviewed Publications              

  1. “Reproduction and optical analysis of Morpho-inspired polymeric nanostructures”, C. A. Tippets, Y. Fu, A.-M. Jackson, E. U. Donev, and R. Lopez, J. Opt. 18, 065105 (2016).
  2. “Structural colors: from natural to artificial systems” (Advanced Review), Y. Fu, C. A. Tippets, E. U. Donev, and R. Lopez, WIREs Nanomed. Nanobiotechnol. 8, 758–775 (2016).
  3. “Dynamic Optical Gratings Accessed by Reversible Shape Memory”, C. A. Tippets, Q. Li, Y. Fu, E. U. Donev, Jing Zhou, S. A. Turner, A.-M. S. Jackson, V. S. Ashby, S. S. Sheiko, and R. Lopez, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 7, 14288−14293 (2015).
  4. “Comparison between discrete dipole approximation and other modelling methods for the plasmonic response of gold nanospheres”, V. L. Y. Loke, G. M. Huda, E. U. Donev, V. Schmidt, J. T. Hastings, M. Pinar Mengüç, and T. Wriedt, Appl. Phys. B 115, 237−246 (2014).
  5. “Electron-beam-induced deposition of bimetallic nanostructures from bulk liquids”, M. Bresin, A. Chamberlain,    E. U. Donev, C. B. Samantaray, G. S. Schardein, and J. T. Hastings, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 52, 8004−8007 (2013).
  6. “Silver patterning using an atomic force microscope tip and laser-induced chemical deposition from liquids”, C. A. Jarro, E. U. Donev, M. P. Mengüç, and J. T. Hastings, J. Vac. Sci. Technol. B 30, 06FD02 (2012).
  7. “Differentiating surface and bulk interactions using localized surface plasmon resonances of gold nanorods”, N. Nehru, E. U. Donev, G. M. Huda, L. Yu, Y. Wei, and J. T. Hastings, Opt. Express 20, 6905−6914 (2012). Also selected for Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics, vol. 7(5).
  8. “Effects of a silicon probe on gold nanoparticles on glass under evanescent illumination”, G. M. Huda, E. U. Donev, M. P. Mengüç, and J. T. Hastings, Opt. Express 19, 12679−12687 (2011).
  9. “Substrate effects on the electron-beam-induced deposition of platinum from a liquid precursor”, E. U. Donev, G. Schardein, J. C. Wright, and J. T. Hastings, Nanoscale 3, 2709−2717 (2011).
  10. “Electron-beam-induced deposition of gold from aqueous solutions”, G. Schardein, E. U. Donev, and J. T. Hastings, Nanotechnology 22, 015301 (2011).
  11. “Liquid-precursor electron-beam-induced deposition of Pt nanostructures: dose, proximity, resolution”, E. U. Donev and J. T. Hastings, Nanotechnology 20, 505302 (2009).
  12. “Electron-beam-induced deposition of platinum from a liquid precursor”, E. U. Donev and J. T. Hastings, Nano Lett. 9, 2715−2718 (2009).
  13. “Size effects in the structural phase transition of VO2 nanoparticles studied by surface-enhanced Raman scattering”, E. U. Donev, J. I. Ziegler, R. F. Haglund, Jr., and L. C. Feldman, J. Opt. A: Pure Appl. Opt. 11, 125002 (2009).
  14. “Confocal Raman microscopy across the metal-insulator transition of single vanadium dioxide nanoparticles”,  E. U. Donev, R. Lopez, L. C. Feldman, and R. F. Haglund, Jr., Nano Lett. 9, 702−706 (2009).
  15. “Using a semiconductor-to-metal transition to control optical transmission through subwavelength hole arrays” (Review Article), E. U. Donev, J. Y. Suh, R. Lopez, L. C. Feldman, and R. F. Haglund, Jr., Advances in OptoElectronics, 739135 (2008).
  16. “Modulation of the gold particle-plasmon resonance by the metal-semiconductor transition of vanadium dioxide”, J. Y. Suh, E. U. Donev, D. W. Ferrara, K. A. Tetz, L. C. Feldman, and R. F. Haglund, Jr., J. Opt. A: Pure Appl. Opt. 10, 055202 (2008). Also selected for the journal’s Highlights of 2008 as one of the highest quality rating research papers.
  17. “X-ray diffraction studies of the growth of vanadium dioxide nanoparticles”, S. A. Pauli, R. Herger, and P. R. Willmott; E. U. Donev, J. Y. Suh, and R. F. Haglund, Jr., J. Appl. Phys. 102, 073527 (2007).
  18. “Effects of temperature and oxygen pressure on binary oxide growth using aperture-controlled combinatorial pulsed-laser deposition”, N. D. Bassim, P. K. Schenck, E. U. Donev, E. J. Heilweil, E. Cockayne, M. L. Green, and L. C. Feldman, Appl. Surf. Sci. 254, 785−788 (2007).
  19. “Optical properties of subwavelength hole arrays in vanadium dioxide thin films” (Rapid Communications), E. U. Donev, J. Y. Suh, F. Villegas, R. Lopez, R. F. Haglund, Jr., and L. C. Feldman, Phys. Rev. B 73, 201401(R) (2006).
  20. “Modulated optical transmission of subwavelength hole arrays in metal-VO2 films”, J. Y. Suh, E. U. Donev, R. Lopez, L. C. Feldman, and R. F. Haglund, Jr., Appl. Phys. Lett. 88, 133115 (2006).