Hot-electron photophysics and photochemistry with plasmonic nanostructures

Plasmonic nanostructures such as gold or silver nanoparticles feature extraordinary capability of absorbing light and concentrating the excitation energy in subwavelength volumes. Upon light excitation at the plasmon resonance wavelength, the energy is transferred to single electrons that for a brief period of time become highly energetic. Recent scientific advances demonstrate that these highly energetic, “hot” electrons can be extracted and used to drive photochemical reactions such as the production of hydrogen as solar fuel. In this project we are fundamentally interested in probing the energy distribution and localization of hot electrons in plasmonic nanoparticles, and realizing new materials with a higher extraction yield of hot electrons. Application-wise, we are interested in constructing photocatalytically active nanostructures with the localization of the photocatalyst closely matching the plasmonic hotspots where hot electrons are produced. This project is powered by the combination of electromagnetic simulations, nanoscale material fabrication, and photoelectrochemical synthesis and analysis.

Brainpowers: Jenny Kontoleta and Sven Askes