Thermal dynamics of pulsed-laser excited gold nanorods in suspension†
Photothermal reactions of metallic nanostructures, such as gold nanorods show appealing structural relaxations, such as bubble formation or particle modification. We have employed a pump–probe method to record the structural relaxations of a suspension of gold nanorods upon femtosecond laser excitation by pulsed X-ray scattering both with wide-angle and small-angle sensitivity. Single-pulse reactions include transient bubble formation at 20 J m−2 and irreversible nanorod reshaping at 30 J m−2. Thus the window for reversible excitation is very narrow. Additionally we could map the time-domain and fluence behaviour in a wide range to characterize the relaxations comprehensively. The polarized laser pulse first selectively excites nanorods aligned with the laser electric field, but at higher fluence non-aligned rods are also transformed. At low fluence this transformation happens in the solid state, while at higher fluence the rods melt.