Near-field dielectric scattering promotes optical absorption by platinum nanoparticles


Recent years have seen a surge of interest in tuning the optical properties of metals for a wide range of applications. In contrast to the well-studied plasmonic metals (mainly Au and Ag), which have distinct absorption peaks, tuning the absorption peak of small (<10 nm) Pt nanoparticles in the visible spectral region, but without increasing their size, has been a major challenge. Here we report, for the first time, a new light absorption model to modulate the absorption peak of supported small Pt nanoparticles in the visible spectral region by adjusting their dielectric environment instead of changing their size. In this model, the Pt nanoparticles can absorb the scattered light in the near field of the dielectric surface of a spherical SiO2 support, thereby exhibiting well-defined visible-light absorption peaks and driving photocatalytic redox reactions. This discovery could open a promising new route to using Pt nanoparticles as visible-light photon absorbers for solar energy conversion.

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Figure 1: Optical and chemical properties of Pt nanoparticles and supported Pt/SiO2-SA composites.
Figure 2: Theoretical modelling results.
Figure 3: Near-field intensity maps.
Figure 4: Structure and optical properties analysis.
Figure 5: Photoactivity evaluation for selective oxidation and wavelength- and intensity-dependent photoactivity.
Figure 6: Photocatalytic hydrogen production and photocurrent responses.


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The authors acknowledge support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (U1463204, 20903023, 21173045), the Award Program for Minjiang Scholar Professorship, the Natural Science Foundation (NSF) of Fujian Province for Distinguished Young Investigator Grant (2012J06003), the Independent Research Project of State Key Laboratory of Photocatalysis on Energy and Environment (no. 2014A05), the 1st Program of Fujian Province for Top Creative Young Talents and the Program for Returned High-Level Overseas Chinese Scholars of Fujian Province. This work was performed, in part, at the Center for Nanoscale Materials, a US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences User Facility (contract no. DE-AC02-06CH11357). Y.S. acknowledges start-up fund support from Temple University. J.J.F. acknowledges start-up funds from William Paterson University.

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Y.-J.X. and Y.S. analysed the data, contributed to discussions and wrote the manuscript. N.Z. and C.H. conducted the experiments. J.-J.F., J.C. and S.-K.G. performed theoretical simulations and assisted with revising the manuscript. D.Z. contributed to improving the quality of the figures.

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Correspondence to Yi-Jun Xu or Yugang Sun.

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Zhang, N., Han, C., Xu, Y. et al. Near-field dielectric scattering promotes optical absorption by platinum nanoparticles. Nature Photon 10, 473–482 (2016).

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