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UV-Resonant Al Nanocrystals: Synthesis, Silica Coating, and Broadband Photothermal Response

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journal contribution
posted on 03.12.2020, 21:17 by David Renard, Shu Tian, Minhan Lou, Oara Neumann, Jian Yang, Aaron Bayles, David Solti, Peter Nordlander, Naomi J. Halas
The field of plasmonics has largely been inspired by the properties of Au and Ag nanoparticles, leading to applications in sensing, photocatalysis, nanomedicine, and solar water treatment. Recently the quest for new plasmonic materials has focused on earth-abundant elements, where aluminum is a sustainable, low-cost potential alternative. Here we report the chemical synthesis of sub-50 nm diameter Al nanocrystals with a plasmon-resonant absorption in the UV region of the spectrum. We observe a transition from a UV-resonant response, that is, a colorless solution, to a broadband absorptive response, that is, a completely black solution, as the nanocrystal concentration is increased. The strong absorptive interband transition in Al provides the dominant mechanism responsible for this effect. We developed a robust method to functionalize Al nanocrystals with silica to increase their stability in H2O from hours to weeks enabling us to observe efficient broadband photothermal heating with these nanoparticles.