Chiral Plasmonic Nanocrystals for Generation of Hot Electrons: Toward Polarization-Sensitive Photochemistry

Tianji Liu, Lucas V. Besteiro, Tim Liedl, Miguel A. Correa-Duarte, Zhiming Wang, and Alexander O. Govorov
Nano Lett. 2019, 2, 1395-1407


The use of biomaterials, with techniques such as DNA-directed assembly or biodirected synthesis, can surpass top-down fabrication techniques in creating plasmonic superstructures in terms of spatial resolution, range of functionality, and fabrication speed. In particular, by enabling a very precise placement of nanoparticles in a bioassembled complex or through the controlled biodirected shaping of single nanoparticles, plasmonic nanocrystals can show remarkably strong circular dichroism (CD) signals. We show that chiral bioplasmonic assemblies and single nanocrystals can enable polarization-sensitive photochemistry based on the generation of energetic (hot) electrons. It is now established that hot plasmonic electrons can induce surface photochemistry or even reshape plasmonic nanocrystals. We show that merging chiral plasmonic nanocrystal systems and the hot-election generation effect offers unique possibilities in photochemistry, such as polarization-sensitive photochemistry promoting nonchiral molecular reactions, chiral photoinduced growth of a colloid at the atomic level, and chiral photochemical destruction of chiral nanocrystals. In contrast, for chiral molecular systems, the equivalent of the described effects is challenging to observe because molecular species typically exhibit very small CD signals. Moreover, we compare our findings with traditional chiral photochemistry at the molecular level, identifying new, different regimes for chiral photochemistry with possibilities that are unique for plasmonic colloidal systems. In this study, we bring together the concept of hot-electron generation and the field of chiral colloidal plasmonics. Using chiral plasmonic nanorod complexes as a model system, we demonstrate remarkably strong CD in both optical extinction and generation rates of hot electrons. Studying the regime of steady-state excitation, we discuss the influence of geometrical and material parameters on the chiral effects involved in the generation of hot electrons. Optical chirality and the chiral hot-electron response in the nanorod dimers result from complex interparticle interactions, which can appear in the weak coupling regime or in the form of Rabi splitting. Regarding practical applications, our study suggests interesting opportunities in polarization-sensitive photochemistry, in chiral recognition or separation, and in promoting chiral crystal growth at the nanoscale.

Nano Lett., 2019