Hot electrons generated by intraband and interband transition detected using a plasmonic Cu/TiO2 nanodiode
The use of metal nanoparticles, including Au, Ag, Cu, and Al, can increase the efficiency of photovoltaic devices by electromagnetic field enhancement, which is driven by the excitation of localized surface plasmon resonance. Direct energy conversion from light into electricity via the decay of surface plasmons causing the excitation of hot electron–hole pairs is also a feasible channel. The generation of hot electrons in metal nanostructures can occur through intraband excitation within the conduction band or through interband transition, which is caused by transitions from other bands to the unoccupied conduction band states. Here, we show the distinction between hot electron generation induced by intraband excitation and interband transition on a plasmonic Cu/TiO2 nanodiode by measuring the current conversion efficiency with a monochromator system. We also show the dependence of the production of photocurrent on the thickness of the Cu layer and the effect of an aluminum oxide protection layer on the hot electron flux versus oxidation of the Cu layer. Our results can provide a better understanding for copper-based hot electron photovoltaics, which could lead to more efficient plasmonic energy conversion.