Energy scales and dynamics of electronic excitations in functionalized gold nanoparticles measured at the single particle level†
The knowledge of the electronic structure and dynamics of nanoparticles is a prerequisite to develop miniaturized single-electron devices based on nanoparticles. Low-temperature transport measurements of individual stable metallic nanoparticles enable unravelling the system specific electronic structure while ultrafast optical spectroscopy gives access to the electron dynamics. In this work, we investigate bare and thiol-functionalized gold nanoparticles. For the latter, we employ a fast and low-cost fabrication technique which yields nanoparticles with narrow size distribution. Using relatively long thiol-ended alkane chains for the functionalization modifies the electronic density of states of the nanoparticles. The study of decay dynamics of surface-plasmon-related hot electrons reveals the presence of electronic states at the interface which serve as a fast decay channel for electronic relaxation. By low-temperature scanning tunnelling microscopy we precisely investigate the energy scales and electronic interactions relevant for the tunnel charge transport through this system. We observe that the interaction between the functional ligand and the substrate on which the nanoparticles reside also influences the electronic transport. The procedure that we employ can be easily adapted to other metallic nanoparticles. Our findings are therefore important for incorporating them into single-electron devices.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2019 PCCP HOT Articles