Plasmoelectric potentials in metal nanostructures

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Science  14 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6211, pp. 828-831
DOI: 10.1126/science.1258405

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The conversion of optical power to an electric potential is of general interest for energy applications and is typically obtained via optical excitation of semiconductor materials. We developed a method for achieving electric potential that uses an all-metal geometry based on the plasmon resonance in metal nanostructures. In arrays of gold nanoparticles on an indium tin oxide substrate and arrays of 100-nanometer-diameter holes in 20-nanometer-thick gold films on a glass substrate, we detected negative and positive surface potentials during monochromatic irradiation at wavelengths below or above the plasmon resonance, respectively. We observed plasmoelectric surface potentials as large as 100 millivolts under illumination of 100 milliwatts per square centimeter. Plasmoelectric devices may enable the development of all-metal optoelectronic devices that can convert light into electrical energy.

Gold nanoparticles form potential plasmons

Plasmons—the collective light-induced electronic excitations that occur at the surface of a metal—may form the basis for a new technology for harvesting solar energy. Currently, solar energy is converted into useful energy either by solar-thermal and photovoltaic conversion systems seen on rooftops, or, in some niche applications, by thermoelectric devices. Sheldon et al. observed electric potentials induced in gold nanospheres by optical irradiation. The effect may be useful in the design of a new generation of energy conversion devices based on plasmonics.

Science, this issue p. 828

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