Electrochemical modulation of plasmon-induced charge separation behaviour at Au–TiO2 photocathodes
Plasmon-induced charge separation (PICS) at the interface between a plasmonic nanoparticle and a semiconductor becomes less efficient as the plasmon resonance wavelength increases, because the energy of a photon may not be sufficiently higher than the interfacial Schottky barrier height. In this study, we developed PICS photocathodes by coating Au nanoparticles of different sizes on an ITO electrode with a thin TiO2 layer, and applied negative potentials to those photocathodes so as to suppress back electron transfer and improve the PICS photocurrent responses. The photocurrent enhancement factor was increased as the particle size was decreased, and enhancement of about two orders of magnitude was observed for small Au nanoparticles when bias voltage of 0.5 V was applied. In some cases the photocurrent enhancement was accompanied by a slight redshift of the photocurrent peak, which was caused by a lowered barrier. This technique would be useful for tuning the photocurrents when it is applied to devices such as electrochemical LSPR sensors and photodetectors.