Article | Published:

Plasmon-induced resonance energy transfer for solar energy conversion

Nature Photonics volume 9, pages 601607 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

In Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), energy non-radiatively transfers from a blue-shifted emitter to a red-shifted absorber by dipole–dipole coupling. This study shows that plasmonics enables the opposite transfer direction, transferring the plasmonic energy towards the short-wavelength direction to induce charge separation in a semiconductor. Plasmon-induced resonance energy transfer (PIRET) differs from FRET because of the lack of a Stoke's shift, non-local absorption effects and a strong dependence on the plasmon's dephasing rate and dipole moment. PIRET non-radiatively transfers energy through an insulating spacer layer, which prevents interfacial charge recombination losses and dephasing of the plasmon from hot-electron transfer. The distance dependence of dipole–dipole coupling is mapped out for a range of detuning across the plasmon resonance. PIRET can efficiently harvest visible and near-infrared sunlight with energy below the semiconductor band edge to help overcome the constraints of band-edge energetics for single semiconductors in photoelectrochemical cells, photocatalysts and photovoltaics.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (CBET-1233795) and NSF Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. (1102689). The resource and facilities were partially supported by the Army Research Laboratory (W911NF-14-2-0116) and NSF (EPS 1003907). The use of the West Virginia University shared facilities is appreciated.

Author information

Author notes

    • Jiangtian Li
    •  & Scott K. Cushing

    These authors contributed equally

Affiliations

  1. Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506-6106, USA

    • Jiangtian Li
    • , Scott K. Cushing
    • , Fanke Meng
    •  & Nianqiang Wu
  2. Department of Physics and Astronomy, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506-6315, USA

    • Scott K. Cushing
    • , Tess R. Senty
    •  & Alan D. Bristow

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Contributions

N.W. conceived the idea and concepts, and initiated, designed and guided the research. J.L. synthesized the test materials and conducted the photocatalysis measurements. S.K.C. also conceived the concepts, and conducted the transient absorption measurements, theoretical calculations and data analysis. F.M. and T.R.S. performed the microstructure characterization and materials testing. A.D.B. assisted with the analysis and discussion. S.K.C., N.W., J.L. and A.D.B. wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nianqiang Wu.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2015.142

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