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Plasmon-induced hot carrier science and technology


The discovery of the photoelectric effect by Heinrich Hertz in 1887 set the foundation for over 125 years of hot carrier science and technology. In the early 1900s it played a critical role in the development of quantum mechanics, but even today the unique properties of these energetic, hot carriers offer new and exciting opportunities for fundamental research and applications. Measurement of the kinetic energy and momentum of photoejected hot electrons can provide valuable information on the electronic structure of materials. The heat generated by hot carriers can be harvested to drive a wide range of physical and chemical processes. Their kinetic energy can be used to harvest solar energy or create sensitive photodetectors and spectrometers. Photoejected charges can also be used to electrically dope two-dimensional materials. Plasmon excitations in metallic nanostructures can be engineered to enhance and provide valuable control over the emission of hot carriers. This Review discusses recent advances in the understanding and application of plasmon-induced hot carrier generation and highlights some of the exciting new directions for the field.

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Figure 1: Effects that can be stimulated by the photoexcitation of hot electrons in a metal (blue).
Figure 2: Photoexcitation and relaxation of metallic nanoparticles.
Figure 3: Examples of hot-carrier-induced chemical processes stimulated by plasmon excitations.
Figure 4: Physics and applications of hot-electron-induced heating.
Figure 5: Hot electron devices.


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We thank all of the students and postdocs in our groups who are actively involved with hot electron research. We also greatly acknowledge support from the DOE Light–Material Interactions Energy Frontier Research Centre, an Energy Frontier Research Centre funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences under Award DE-SC0001293. P.N. and N.J.H. acknowledge support from the Robert A. Welch Foundation through grants C-1220 and C-1222, and also acknowledge support through the AFOSR MURI programme.

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Correspondence to Mark L. Brongersma or Naomi J. Halas or Peter Nordlander.

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Brongersma, M., Halas, N. & Nordlander, P. Plasmon-induced hot carrier science and technology. Nature Nanotech 10, 25–34 (2015).

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