Enhanced generation and anisotropic Coulomb scattering of hot electrons in an ultra-broadband plasmonic nanopatch metasurface.
ABSTRACT: The creation of energetic electrons through plasmon excitation of nanostructures before thermalization has been proposed for a wide number of applications in optical energy conversion and ultrafast nanophotonics. However, the use of "nonthermal" electrons is primarily limited by both a low generation efficiency and their ultrafast decay. We report experimental and theoretical results on the use of broadband plasmonic nanopatch metasurfaces comprising a gold substrate coupled to silver nanocubes that produce large concentrations of hot electrons, which we measure using transient absorption spectroscopy. We find evidence for three subpopulations of nonthermal carriers, which we propose arise from anisotropic electron-electron scattering within sp-bands near the Fermi surface. The bimetallic character of the metasurface strongly impacts the physics, with dissipation occurring primarily in the gold, whereas the quantum process of hot electron generation takes place in both components. Our calculations show that the choice of geometry and materials is crucial for producing strong ultrafast nonthermal electron components.The creation of energetic electrons through plasmon excitation has implications in optical energy conversion and ultrafast nanophotonics. Here, the authors find evidence for three subpopulations of nonthermal carriers which arise from anisotropic electron-electron scattering near the Fermi surface.
Project description:Developing a fundamental understanding of ultrafast non-thermal processes in metallic nanosystems will lead to applications in photodetection, photochemistry and photonic circuitry. Typically, non-thermal and thermal carrier populations in plasmonic systems are inferred either by making assumptions about the functional form of the initial energy distribution or using indirect sensors like localized plasmon frequency shifts. Here we directly determine non-thermal and thermal distributions and dynamics in thin films by applying a double inversion procedure to optical pump-probe data that relates the reflectivity changes around Fermi energy to the changes in the dielectric function and in the single-electron energy band occupancies. When applied to normal incidence measurements our method uncovers the ultrafast excitation of a non-Fermi-Dirac distribution and its subsequent thermalization dynamics. Furthermore, when applied to the Kretschmann configuration, we show that the excitation of propagating plasmons leads to a broader energy distribution of electrons due to the enhanced Landau damping.
Project description:Black phosphorus has recently attracted significant attention for its highly anisotropic properties. A variety of ultrafast optical spectroscopies has been applied to probe the carrier response to photoexcitation, but the complementary lattice response has remained unaddressed. Here we employ femtosecond electron diffraction to explore how the structural anisotropy impacts the lattice dynamics after photoexcitation. We observe two time scales in the lattice response, which we attribute to electron-phonon and phonon-phonon thermalization. Pronounced differences between armchair and zigzag directions are observed, indicating a nonthermal state of the lattice lasting up to ?60 ps. This nonthermal state is characterized by a modified anisotropy of the atomic vibrations compared to equilibrium. Our findings provide insights in both electron-phonon as well as phonon-phonon coupling and bear direct relevance for any application of black phosphorus in nonequilibrium conditions.
Project description:Observing the motion of electrons on their natural nanometer length and femtosecond time scales is a fundamental goal of and an open challenge for contemporary ultrafast science1-5. At present, optical techniques and electron microscopy mostly provide either ultrahigh temporal or spatial resolution, and microscopy techniques with combined space-time resolution require further development6-11. In this study, we create an ultrafast electron source via plasmon nanofocusing on a sharp gold taper and implement this source in an ultrafast point-projection electron microscope. This source is used in an optical pump-electron probe experiment to study ultrafast photoemissions from a nanometer-sized plasmonic antenna12-15. We probe the real space motion of the photoemitted electrons with a 20-nm spatial resolution and a 25-fs time resolution and reveal the deflection of probe electrons by residual holes in the metal. This is a step toward time-resolved microscopy of electronic motion in nanostructures.
Project description:We present a method for the generation of high kinetic energy attosecond electron packets via magnetostatic and aperture filtering of conical surface plasmon (SP) accelerated electrons. The conical SP waves are excited by coupling an ultrafast radially polarized laser beam to a conical silica lens coated with an Ag film. Electromagnetic and particle tracking models are employed to characterize the ultrafast electron packets.
Project description:We consider the stability of the circular Fermi surface of a two-dimensional electron gas system against an elliptical deformation induced by an anisotropic Coulomb interaction potential. We use the jellium approximation for the neutralizing background and treat the electrons as fully spin-polarized (spinless) particles with a constant isotropic (effective) mass. The anisotropic Coulomb interaction potential considered in this work is inspired from studies of two-dimensional electron gas systems in the quantum Hall regime. We use a Hartree-Fock procedure to obtain analytical results for two special Fermi liquid quantum electronic phases. The first one corresponds to a system with circular Fermi surface while the second one corresponds to a liquid anisotropic phase with a specific elliptical deformation of the Fermi surface that gives rise to the lowest possible potential energy of the system. The results obtained suggest that, for the most general situations, neither of these two Fermi liquid phases represent the lowest energy state of the system within the framework of the family of states considered in this work. The lowest energy phase is one with an optimal elliptical deformation whose specific value is determined by a complex interplay of many factors including the density of the system.
Project description:This paper describes measurements of the dynamics of hot electron cooling in photoexcited gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) with diameters of ?3.5 nm, and passivated with either a hexadecylamine or hexadecanethiolate adlayer, using ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy. Fits of these dynamics with temperature-dependent Mie theory reveal that both the electronic heat capacity and the electron-phonon coupling constant are larger for the thiolated NPs than for the aminated NPs, by 40% and 30%, respectively. Density functional theory calculations on ligand-functionalized Au slabs show that the increase in these quantities is due to an increased electronic density of states near the Fermi level upon ligand exchange from amines to thiolates. The lifetime of hot electrons, which have thermalized from the initial plasmon excitation, increases with increasing electronic heat capacity, but decreases with increasing electron-phonon coupling, so the effects of changing surface chemistry on these two quantities partially cancel to yield a hot electron lifetime of thiolated NPs that is only 20% longer than that of aminated NPs. This analysis also reveals that incorporation of a temperature-dependent electron-phonon coupling constant is necessary to adequately fit the dynamics of electron cooling.
Project description:Plasmon hot carriers are interesting for photoredox chemical synthesis but their direct utilization is limited by their ultrafast thermalization. Therefore, they are often transferred to suitable accepting materials that expedite their lifetime. Solid-state photocatalysts are technologically more suitable than their molecular counterparts, but their photophysical processes are harder to follow due to the absence of clear optical fingerprints. Herein, the journey of hot electrons in a solid-state multimetallic photocatalyst is revealed by a combination of ultrafast visible and infrared spectroscopy. Dynamics showed that electrons formed upon silver plasmonic excitation reach the gold catalytic site within 700 fs and the electron flow could also be reversed. Gold is the preferred site until saturation of its 5d band occurs. Silver-plasmon hot electrons increased the rate of nitrophenol reduction 16-fold, confirming the preponderant role of hot electrons in the overall catalytic activity and the importance to follow hot carriers' journeys in solid-state photosystems.
Project description:Non-noble metal plasmonic materials, e.g. doped semiconductor nanocrystals, compared to their noble metal counterparts, have shown unique advantages, including broadly tunable plasmon frequency (from visible to infrared) and rich surface chemistry. However, the fate and harvesting of hot electrons from these non-noble metal plasmons have been much less explored. Here we report plasmon driven hot electron generation and transfer from plasmonic metal oxide nanocrystals to surface adsorbed molecules by ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy. We show unambiguously that under infrared light excitation, hot electron transfers in ultrafast timescale (<50?fs) with an efficiency of 1.4%. The excitation wavelength and fluence dependent study indicates that hot electron transfers right after Landau damping before electron thermalization. We revealed the efficiency-limiting factors and provided improvement strategies. This study paves the way for designing efficient infrared light absorption and photochemical conversion applications based on non-noble metal plasmonic materials.
Project description:The Fermi surface of elemental bismuth consists of three small rotationally equivalent electron pockets, offering a valley degree of freedom to charge carriers. A relatively small magnetic field can confine electrons to their lowest Landau level. This is the quantum limit attained in other dilute metals upon application of sufficiently strong magnetic field. Here we report on the observation of another threshold magnetic field never encountered before in any other solid. Above this field, Bempty, one or two valleys become totally empty. Drying up a Fermi sea by magnetic field in the Brillouin zone leads to a manyfold enhancement in electric conductance. We trace the origin of the large drop in magnetoresistance across Bempty to transfer of carriers between valleys with highly anisotropic mobilities. The non-interacting picture of electrons with field-dependent mobility explains most results but the Coulomb interaction may play a role in shaping the fine details.
Project description:For many of the envisioned optoelectronic applications of graphene, it is crucial to understand the subpicosecond carrier dynamics immediately following photoexcitation and the effect of photoexcitation on the electrical conductivity-the photoconductivity. Whereas these topics have been studied using various ultrafast experiments and theoretical approaches, controversial and incomplete explanations concerning the sign of the photoconductivity, the occurrence and significance of the creation of additional electron-hole pairs, and, in particular, how the relevant processes depend on Fermi energy have been put forward. We present a unified and intuitive physical picture of the ultrafast carrier dynamics and the photoconductivity, combining optical pump-terahertz probe measurements on a gate-tunable graphene device, with numerical calculations using the Boltzmann equation. We distinguish two types of ultrafast photo-induced carrier heating processes: At low (equilibrium) Fermi energy (EF ? 0.1 eV for our experiments), broadening of the carrier distribution involves interband transitions (interband heating). At higher Fermi energy (EF ? 0.15 eV), broadening of the carrier distribution involves intraband transitions (intraband heating). Under certain conditions, additional electron-hole pairs can be created [carrier multiplication (CM)] for low EF, and hot carriers (hot-CM) for higher EF. The resultant photoconductivity is positive (negative) for low (high) EF, which in our physical picture, is explained using solely electronic effects: It follows from the effect of the heated carrier distributions on the screening of impurities, consistent with the DC conductivity being mostly due to impurity scattering. The importance of these insights is highlighted by a discussion of the implications for graphene photodetector applications.