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Nano Lett. 2011 Aug 10;11(8):3440-6. doi: 10.1021/nl201908s. Epub 2011 Jul 15.

Plasmon enhanced solar-to-fuel energy conversion.

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  • 1Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials, 476 Lomita Mall, Stanford, California 94305-4045, United States.


Future generations of photoelectrodes for solar fuel generation must employ inexpensive, earth-abundant absorber materials in order to provide a large-scale source of clean energy. These materials tend to have poor electrical transport properties and exhibit carrier diffusion lengths which are significantly shorter than the absorption depth of light. As a result, many photoexcited carriers are generated too far from a reactive surface and recombine instead of participating in solar-to-fuel conversion. We demonstrate that plasmonic resonances in metallic nanostructures and multilayer interference effects can be engineered to strongly concentrate sunlight close to the electrode/liquid interface, precisely where the relevant reactions take place. On comparison of spectral features in the enhanced photocurrent spectra to full-field electromagnetic simulations, the contribution of surface plasmon excitations is verified. These results open the door to the optimization of a wide variety of photochemical processes by leveraging the rapid advances in the field of plasmonics.

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