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ACS Nano. 2013 Jan 22;7(1):707-16. doi: 10.1021/nn304970v. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

Fowler-Nordheim tunneling induced charge transfer plasmons between nearly touching nanoparticles.

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  • 1Institute of High Performance Computing, A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), 1 Fusionopolis Way, no. 16-16 Connexis North, Singapore 138632.


Reducing the gap between two metal nanoparticles down to atomic dimensions uncovers novel plasmon resonant modes. Of particular interest is a mode known as the charge transfer plasmon (CTP). This mode has been experimentally observed in touching nanoparticles, where charges can shuttle between the nanoparticles via a conductive path. However, the CTP mode for nearly touching nanoparticles has only been predicted theoretically to occur via direct tunneling when the gap is reduced to ~0.4 nm. Because of challenges in fabricating and characterizing gaps at these dimensions, experiments have been unable to provide evidence for this plasmon mode that is supported by tunneling. In this work, we consider an alternative tunneling process, that is, the well-known Fowler-Nordheim (FN) tunneling that occurs at high electric fields, and apply it for the first time in the theoretical investigation of plasmon resonances between nearly touching nanoparticles. This new approach relaxes the requirements on gap dimensions, and intuitively suggests that with a sufficiently high-intensity irradiation, the CTP can be excited via FN tunneling for a range of subnanometer gaps. The unique feature of FN tunneling induced CTP is the ability to turn on and off the charge transfer by varying the intensity of an external light source, and this could inspire the development of novel quantum devices.

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