Localized photodeposition of catalysts using nanophotonic resonances in silicon photocathodes
Nanostructured semiconductors feature resonant optical modes that confine light absorption in specific areas called “hot spots”.
These areas can be used for localized extraction of the photogenerated charges, which in turn could drive chemical reactions for
synthesis of catalytic materials. In this work, we use these nanophotonic hot spots in vertical silicon nanowires to locally deposit
platinum nanoparticles in a photo-electrochemical system. The tapering angle of the silicon nanowires as well as the excitation
wavelength are used to control the location of the hot spots together with the deposition sites of the platinum catalyst. A combina-
tion of finite difference time domain (FDTD) simulations with scanning electron microscopy image analysis showed a reasonable
correlation between the simulated hot spots and the actual experimental localization and quantity of platinum atoms. This nanopho-
tonic approach of driving chemical reactions at the nanoscale using the optical properties of the photo-electrode, can be very prom-
ising for the design of lithography-free and efficient hierarchical nanostructures for the generation of solar fuels.