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Published March 18, 2016 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Thermodynamic theory of the plasmoelectric effect


Resonant metal nanostructures exhibit an optically induced electrostatic potential when illuminated with monochromatic light under off-resonant conditions. This plasmoelectric effect is thermodynamically driven by the increase in entropy that occurs when the plasmonic structure aligns its resonant absorption spectrum with incident illumination by varying charge density. As a result, the elevated steady-state temperature of the nanostructure induced by plasmonic absorption is further increased by a small amount. Here, we study in detail the thermodynamic theory underlying the plasmoelectric effect by analyzing a simplified model system consisting of a single silver nanoparticle. We find that surface potentials as large as 473 mV are induced under 100 W/m2 monochromatic illumination, as a result of a 11 mK increases in the steady-state temperature of the nanoparticle. Furthermore, we discuss the applicability of this analysis for realistic experimental geometries, and show that this effect is generic for optical structures in which the resonance is linked to the charge density.

Additional Information

© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. Received: 03 November 2015; Accepted: 03 March 2016; Published online: 18 March 2016. We gratefully acknowledge Andrea Alù for discussions and careful reading of the manuscript. Work at AMOLF (J.v.d.G. and A.P.) is part of the research program of the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter, which is financially supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). It is also supported by the European Research Counsel. Work at Texas A&M (M.S.) was funded in part by a grant from The Welch Foundation (A-1886). The work at Caltech (M.S. and H.A.A.) was supported by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under grant DE-FG02-07ER46405. Author Contributions J.v.d.G. performed the calculations and the analysis, and co-wrote the manuscript with M.T.S. under supervision of A.P. and H.A.A. All authors reviewed the manuscript. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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