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Plasmonic coupling at a metal/semiconductor interface
Nature Photonics 11(12):806 Dec 2017

Tan, Shijing; Argondizzo, Adam; Ren, Jindong; Liu, Liming; Zhao, Jin; Petek, Hrvoje

Integrating plasmonic nanoparticles with semiconductor substrates introduces strong optical resonances that extend and enhance the spectrum of photocatalytic and photovoltaic activity. The effect of plasmonic resonances has been variously attributed to the field nanoconfinement, plasmon–exciton coupling, hot electron transfer, and so on, based on action spectra of enhanced photoactivity. It remains unclear, however, whether energized carriers in the substrate are generated by the transfer of plasmonically generated hot electrons from the metal, as broadly believed, or directly by dephasing of the plasmonic field at the interface. Here, we demonstrate the importance of the direct plasmonic coupling across the chemical interface for hot electron generation at a prototypical Ag nanocluster/TiO2 heterojunction by direct probing of the coherence and hot electron dynamics with two-photon photoemission spectroscopy. Energy, time and material distributions of excitations in the Ag nanocluster/TiO2 heterojunction indicate that dielectric coupling with the substrate renormalizes the plasmon resonance of the Ag nanoparticle, and its dephasing directly generates hot electrons in TiO2 on a <10 fs timescale.

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