Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Sonia Létant

Division Leader
Nuclear and Chemical Sciences Division

 +1 925-423-9885

Ph.D. Physics as an M.E.S.R. Fellow
Université Joseph Fourier, France
M.S. Materials Science
Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France

Fellowships & Awards

1995-1998 MESR Fellowship from the French Department of Superior Education and Research
1998-2000 Lavoisier Fellowship from the French Department of Foreign Affairs
2000 Best Talk Award: Porous Silicon Science and Technology 2000 International Meeting, Madrid, Spain
2002 Best Poster Award: Chemistry and Materials Science Postdoc Symposium
2004 NAI Directorate award 'in recognition of your outstanding achievement for cutting edge research in nanomaterials that led to significant recognition for the laboratory'
2004 CMS Directorate award in Excellence in Publication
2006 CMS Directorate award in Excellence in Publication
2008 GS silver award, 'in recognition of your outstanding contributions to the BioWatch Surrogate Studies for the successful completion of an extensive exercise to evaluate the persistence and re-aerosolization of a biothreat agent following a simulated biological attack'
2008 Nano50 award 2008 for the design and fabrication of functional nanopores, Boston, MA
2009 GS silver award, 'in recognition of your accomplishments as part of the BioWatch Biosimulant Field Exercise 2008 Team'
2010 GS silver award, 'in recognition of the development, optimization and verification of both manual and automated Rapid Viability-PCR methods for virulent Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax) for several environmental sample types'
2011 PLS Directorate award for Excellence in Publication
2011 GS Silver Award in recognition of your dedication and teamwork in the successful completion of the Rapid Viability PCR assessment during the Bio-Response Operational Testing and Evaluation Event
2012 GS Silver Award in recognition for your contributions to the development and implementation of the Quality Assurance Plan (QAPP) in preparation for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) validation of the Rapid Viability PCR method
2013 PLS Directorate award for exemplary leadership in managing efforts to improve housekeeping and the reduction of legacy chemical inventories, resulting in beneficial recognition by LLNL management and external organizations
2013 LLNL Director's Institutional Awards of Excellence: Legacy Chemical Screening, Staging and Dispositioning Project Team
2013 Federal Laboratory Consortium Outstanding Technology Development Award 2013, for RVPCR method (FLC Meeting, October 21-23, 2013, San Diego, CA); S. Kane, G. Murphy, S. Létant, T. Alfaro, S. Shah

Personal Background/Research Interests

I received a Masters degree in Materials Science and a PhD in Condensed Matter Physics from the Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, where I explored energy transfer mechanisms in semiconductor nano-composite structures. I then moved to the United States to conduct postdoctoral research as a Lavoisier Fellow in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California in San Diego, where I focused on new concepts and materials for gas sensing, including porous Bragg reflectors and artificial electronic noses. I joined LLNL in 2001 as a Directorate Postdoctoral Researcher and was appointed as a Staff Scientist in 2002. I became a Group Leader for the Functional Materials Group in 2006 and a Deputy Division Leader for S&T for the Chemical Sciences Division in January 2010. I was appointed as the Deputy Division Leader at large for the Chemical Sciences Division in March 2012, which became the Nuclear and Chemical Sciences Division in 2014.

My research at LLNL has focused on functional materials and methods for chemical, biological, and radiation sensing as well as on materials compatibility and aging.

Selected (Recent) Publications


  1. S. Létant and J.C. Vial (1996), Photodissolution and photoluminescence quenching of porous silicon in HF, Journal of Applied Physics 80(12), 7018-7022.
  2. S. Létant and J.C. Vial (1997), Energy transfer in dye impregnated porous silicon, Journal of Applied Physics 82(1), 397-401.
  3. S. Létant and J.C.Vial (1998), A luminescence versus temperature study of fresh and oxidized porous silicon layers under different atmospheres, Journal of Applied Physics 84(2), 1041-1046.
  4. S. Létant and G. Fishman (1998), A model for energy transfer from porous silicon nanocrystallites to SiH surface vibrations at low temperature, Physical Review B, 58(23), 15344-15346.
  5. S. Setzu, P. Solsona, S. Létant, R. Romestain and J.C. Vial (1999), Microcavity effect on dye impregnated porous silicon samples, The European Physical Journal of Applied Physics 7, 59-63.
  6. J.A. Roger, M.G. Blanchin, B. Canut, V.S. Teodorescu, S. Létant and J.C. Vial (1999), Tin oxide growth in nanoporous silicon: an approach to efficient solid state electrode, Semiconductor Science and Technology 14, L29-L32.
  7. S. Setzu, S. Létant, P. Solsona, R. Romestain and J.C. Vial (1999), Improvement of the luminescence in p-type as-prepared or dye impregnated porous silicon microcavities, Journal of Luminescence 80, 129-132.
  8. S. Létant and M.J. Sailor (2000), Detection of HF gas with a porous silicon interferometer, Advanced Materials, 12(5), 355-359.
  9. H. Sohn, S. Létant, M.J. Sailor, and W.C. Trogler (2000), Detection of fluorophosphonate chemical warfare agents by catalytic hydrolysis with a porous silicon interferometer, Journal of the American Chemical Society 122, 5399-5400.
    Press Releases: on articles (8) and (9):
    – News of the week, by Celia Henry: Porous silicon sensor detects chemical warfare agents (June 12th, 2000), Chemical and Engineering News 78(24), p.12.
    Photonics Spectra Magazine, By Daniel Burgess: Simple sensor detects nerve gas (December 2000).
  10. S.E. Létant, S. Content, T.T. Tan, F. Zenhausern, and M.J. Sailor (2000), Integration of porous silicon chips in an electronic artificial nose, Sensors and Actuators B 69, 193-198.
  11. S.E. Létant and M.J. Sailor (2001), Molecular identification by time resolved interferometry in a porous silicon film, Advanced Materials 13(5), 355-338.
  12. B.R. Hart, S.E. Létant, S.R. Kane, M. Hadi, S.J. Shields, and J.G. Reynolds (2003), New method for attachment of biomolecules to porous silicon, Chemical Communications 3, 322-323.
  13. S.E. Létant, B. R. Hart, T. van Buuren and L. J. Terminello (2003), Functionalized silicon membranes for bio-organisms capture, Nature Materials, 2, 391-395.
  14. S.E. Létant, B.R. Hart, S.R. Kane, M. Hadi, S.J. Shields, and J.G. Reynolds (2004), Enzyme immobilization on porous silicon surfaces, Advanced Materials 16(8), 689-693. Front Cover.
  15. S.E. Létant, A.W. van Buuren and L.J. Terminello (2004), Nanochannel arrays on silicon platforms by electrochemistry, Nano Letters 4(9), 1705-1707.
  16. S.E. Létant, S.R. Kane, B.R. Hart, M. Hadi, T.C. Cheng, V.P. Rastogi and J.G. Reynolds (2005), Hydrolysis of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors - organophosphorus acid anhydrolase enzyme immobilization on photoluminescent porous silicon platforms, Chemical Communications 7, 851-853.
  17. S.E. Létant (2005), Functionalized silicon membranes for filtration applications, SPIE E-Newsletters, invited technical article, September issue.
  18. J. Nilsson, J. R. I. Lee, T. V. Ratto and S. E. Létant (2006), Localized functionalization of single nanopores, Advanced Materials 18, 427-431. Front cover.
    Press release: 'DNA attached to single pores for biodetection', Materials Today 9(4), 15 (2006).
  19. S. E. Létant and T.-F. Wang (2006), Study of porous glass doped with quantum dots or laser dyes under alpha irradiation, Applied Physics Letters 88, 103110-103113.
    Selected for publication in the Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science and Technology (American Physical Society) 13 (11).
    Press release: 'Quantum dots may allow new radiation detectors', Photonics Spectra 40(5), 118 (2006).
  20. S. E. Létant, C. Schaldach, M. Johnson, A. Sawvel, W. Bourcier and W. D. Wilson (2006), Pore conductivity control at the hundred nanometer scale: an experimental and theoretical study, Small 12, 1504-1510.
  21. S. E. Létant and T.-F. Wang (2006), Semiconductor quantum dot scintillation under gamma-ray irradiation, Nano Letters 6, 2877-2880.
  22. J. Nilsson, W. Bourcier, J. R. I. Lee, and S. E. Létant (2007), Fouling study of silicon oxide pores in tap water, Materials Letters 61, 2247-2250.
  23. S. E. Létant, J. I. Ortiz, L. Tammero, J. M. Birch, D. W. Derlet, S. Cohen, D. Manning, and M. T. McBride (2007), A multiplexed reverse transcriptase PCR assay for identification of viral respiratory pathogens at point-of-care without extraction, Journal of Clinical Microbiology 45, 3498-3505.
  24. S. E. Létant, J. Herberg, L. Dinh, R. S. Maxwell, R. L. Simpson, and A. P. Saab (2007), Structure and catalytic activity of POSS-stabilized Pd nanoparticles, Catalysis Communications 8, 2137-2142.
  1. D. J. Sirbuly, S. E. Létant, and T. V. Ratto, Hydrogen sensing with subwavelength optical waveguides via porous silsesquioxane-palladium nanocomposites (2008), Advanced Materials 20, 4724-4727.
    Press release: 'Preventing a blow', Nature Materials 7, 764 (2008).
  2. W. Sun, J. A. Romagnoli, J. W. Tringe. S. E. Létant, P. Stroeve, and A. Palazoglu (2009), Line edge detection and characterization in SEM images by wavelets, IEEE Transaction on Semiconductor Manufacturing 22, 180-187.
  3. S. R. Kane, S. E. Létant, G. A. Murphy, T. M. Alfaro, P. W. Krauter, R. Mahnke, T. Legler and E. Raber (2009), Rapid, high-throughput, culture-based PCR methods to analyze samples for viable spores of Bacillus anthracis and its surrogates, Journal of Microbiological Methods 76, 278-284.
  4. S. E. Baker, R. C. Hopkins, C. D. Blanchette, V. L. Walsworth, R. Sumbad, N. O. Fischer, E. A. Kuhn, M. Coleman, B. A. Chromy, S. E. Létant, P. D. Hoeprich, M. W. W. Adams, and P. T. Henderson (2009), Hydrogen production by a hyperthermophilic membrane-bound hydrogenase in soluble nanolipoprotein particles, Journal of the American Chemical Society 131, 7508-7509.
  5. S. E. Létant, A. Maiti, T. V. Jones, J. Herberg, R. S. Maxwell, and A. P. Saab (2009), Polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS)-stabilized Pd nanoparticles: factors governing crystallite morphology and secondary aggregate structure, Journal of Physical Chemistry C 113, 19424-19431.
  6. S. E. Létant, S. R. Kane, G. A. Murphy, T. M. Alfaro, L. R. Hodges, L. J. Rose, and E. Raber (2010), Most probable number rapid viability PCR method to detect viable spores of Bacillus anthracis in swab samples, Journal of Microbiological Methods 81, 200-202.
  7. J. F. Regan, S. E. Létant, K. L. Adams, N. T. Nguyen, W. Derlet, S. Cohen, E. A. Vitalis, L. F. Bentley Tammero, J. I. Ortiz, M. T. McBride, and J. M. Birch (2010), A sample-in-answer-out instrument for the detection of multiple respiratory pathogens in unprepared nasopharyngeal swab samples, The Analyst 135, 2316-2322.
  8. S. E. Baker, M.D. Pocha, A.S.P. Chang, D.J. Sirbuly, S. Cabrini, S.D. Dhuey, T.C. Bond and S.E. Létant (2010). Detection of bio-organism simulants using random binding on a defect-free photonic crystal, Applied Physics Letters 97, 113701-113703. Front cover. Highlighted in Physics Today, October 2010. APL's monthly top 20 most-downloaded articles in 2010.
  9. M.R . Powell, N. Sa, M. Davenport, K. Healy, I. Vlassiouk, S. E. Létant, L. A. Baker, and Z. S. Siwy (2011), Noise Properties of Rectifying Nanopores, Journal of Physical Chemistry 115, 8775-8783.
  10. S. E. Létant, G. A. Murphy, T. M. Alfaro, J. R. Avila, S. R. Kane, T. M. Bunt, E. Raber, and S. Shah (2011), Rapid viability polymerase chain reaction method for detection of virulent Bacillus anthracis from environmental samples, Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77, 6570-6578.
  11. S. E. Létant, D. F. Plant, T. S. Wilson, C. T. Alviso, M. S. Read, and R. S. Maxwell (2011), Application of density functional theory to the investigation of polymer degradation: example of cross-linked ethylene - vinyl acetate - vinyl alcohol (EVA-OH) terpolymer de-acetylation, Journal of Polymer Degradation and Stability 96, 2019-2028.
  12. N. Ileri, P. Stroeve, A. Palazoglu, R. Faller, S. H. Zaidi, H.T. Nguyen, J. A. Britten, S. E. Létant, J. W. Tringe (2012), Fabrication of functional silicon-based nanoporous membranes, Journal of Micro-Nanolithography MEMS and MOEMS 11, 013012.
  13. M. Pevarnik, K. Healy, E. Toimil-Norales, A. Morrison, S.E. Létant, and Z.S. Siwy (2012), Polystyrene particles reveal pore substructure as they translocate, ACS Nano 6, 7295-7302.
  14. N. Ileri, S. E. Létant, A. Palazoglu, P. Stroeve, J. W. Tringe, and R. Faller (2012), Mesoscale simulations of biomolecular transport through nanofilters with tapered and cylindrical geometries, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 43, 15066-15077.
  15. M. Davenport, K. Healy, M. Pevarnik, N. Teslich, S. Cabrini, A. P. Morrison, Z.S. Siwy, and S.E. Létant (2012), The role of pore geometry in single nanoparticle detection, ACS Nano 9, 8366-8380.
  16. M. Patel, M. Bowditch, B. Jones, D. Netherton, N. Khan, S.E. Létant, R.S. Maxwell, and S. Birdsell (2013), Volatile outgassing characteristics of highly filled ethylene vinyl acetate binder materials: gas phase infra-red spectroscopy, Polymer Testing 32, 313-320.
  17. M. Patel, S. Pitts, P. Beavis, M. Robinson, P. Morrell, N. Khan, I. Khan, N. Pockett, S. Létant, G. Von White II, A. Labouriau (2013), Thermal stability of poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate) based Materials, Polymer Testing 32, 785-793.
  18. N. Ileri, R. Faller, A. Palazoglu, S. E. Létant, J. W. Tringe and P. Stroeve (2013), Molecular Transport of proteins through nanoporous membranes fabricated by interferometric lithography, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 15, 965-971.
  19. S. Kane, S. Shah, S. Létant, G. Murphy, T. Alfaro, J. Avila, E. Salazar, M. Mullins, and T. Nichols (2013), Operational evaluation of the Rapid Viability PCR method for post-decontamination clearance sampling, The Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense, Special issue: Bioterrorism: Advances in Biosciences – 2, S3:016.
  20. J.W. Tringe, S.E. Létant, L.C. Dugan, H.W. Levie, A.L. Kuhl, G.A. Murphy, S.W. Alves, K.S. Vandersall, and M. L. Pantoya (2013), Comparison of Bacillus atrophaeus spore viability following exposure to detonation of C4 and to deflagration of halogen-containing thermites, Journal of Applied Physics 114, 2349031-6.

Patents Issued

  1. Device for detection of gaseous or liquid molecules by time resolved optical interference measurement in a porous silicon layer, M. J. Sailor and S. E. Létant, Record of Invention, UCSD, March 22, 1999.
    Porous thin-film time-varying reflectivity analysis of samples, M. J Sailor and S. E. Létant, UCSD, US Patent 7,042,570 B2 issued on May 09, 2006.
  2. Target molecules detection by waveguiding in a photonic silicon membrane, S. E. Létant, A. W. van Buuren and L. J. Terminello, LLNL, US Patent No. 6,785,432 B2, September 2004 and US Patent No. 7,155,076 B2, December 2006.
  3. Lipid/Carbon nanotube transistors for direct conversion and amplification of bio-molecular signals, A. Noy, O. Bakajin, S. E. Létant, M. Stadermann and A. Artyukhin, Record of Invention IL-11505.
    Lipid nanotube or nanowire sensor, A. Noy, O. Bakajin, S. E. Létant, M. Stadermann and A. Artyukhin, LLNL, US Patent No. 7,544,978 B2, issued on June 09, 2009 and US Patent 7,745,856 B2, issued on June 29, 2010.
  4. Functionalized apertures for the detection of chemical and biological materials, S. E. Létant, A. W. van Buuren, L. J. Terminello, M. P. Thelen, L. J. Hope-Weeks and B. R. Hart, LLNL, US Patent No. 7,851,203 B2 issued on December 14, 2010.
  5. Fully multiplexed 3D photonic platform for chemical and biological sensing applications, S. E. Létant and T. C. Bond, Record of Invention IL-11707 / S-110, 062 filed on June 26, 2006. US patent 12/206,337 filed on September 08, 2008.
    Multiplexed photonic membranes and related detection methods for chemical and/or biological sensing applications, S. E. Létant and T. C. Bond, US Patent 8,059,924 B1, issued on November 15, 2011.
  6. Raman and optical cross interrogation technique in flow through silicon membranes, T. C. Bond andS. E. Létant, Record of Invention IL-11716 / S-110,070 filed on August 04, 2006. U.S. Patent 8,830,450, issued September 9, 2014.

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