Absorption Enhancement in Lossy Transition Metal Elements of Plasmonic Nanosandwiches
Journal article, 2012
Combination of catalytically active transition metals and surface plasmons offers a promising way to drive chemical reactions by converting incident visible light into energetic electron-hole pairs acting as a mediator. In such a reaction enhancement scheme, the conversion efficiency is dependent on light absorption in the metal. Hence, increasing absorption in the plasmonic structure is expected to increase generation of electron-hole pairs and, consequently, the reaction rate. Furthermore, the abundance of energetic electrons might facilitate new reaction pathways. In this work we discuss optical properties of homo- and heterometallic plasmonic nanosandwiches consisting of two parallel disks made of gold and palladium. We show how near-field coupling between the sandwich elements can be used to enhance absorption in one of them. The limits of this enhancement are investigated using finite-difference time-domain simulations. Physical insight is gained through a simple coupled dipole analysis of the nanostructure. For small palladium disks (compared to the gold disk), total absorption enhancement integrated over the near visible solar AM 1.5 spectrum is 8-fold, while for large palladium disks, similar in size to the gold one, it exceeds three.