(Invited) Nanophotonic Structures for Solar Light Harvesting and the Generation of Hot Plasmonic Electrons

Tuesday, 3 October 2017: 10:30
National Harbor 6 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
G. P. Wiederrecht (Argonne National Laboratory)
Future nanophotonic architectures for optical energy conversion and photocatalysis will require nanostructures with roles that work together cooperatively, such as structures with a large absorption cross section combined with features that enable guiding, propagating, and converting energy. Ultrafast optical responses in nanostructures are potentially important for modulating energy flow and also for characterizing and minimizing energy dissipation pathways in nanophotonic structures. Also, ultrafast extraction of hot plasmonic electrons from metal nanostructures is an important opportunity for increasing efficiency of solar energy conversion and photocatalysis. Efforts to greatly improve the efficiency of hot electron generation through plasmonic metamaterials, and characterization of hot electron dissipation pathways are described. I further describe efforts to induced long-range energy propagation in nanostructures. Nanostructured materials inspired by natural photosynthetic membranes represent an opportunity for efficient and directional energy transport. In natural photosystems, light harvesting complexes can transport excitons to the reaction center core with near unity conversion of absorbed photons to separated charge. A key to this process is the high rate of exciton hopping and the directionality of exciton flow due to an energy level waterfall effect of excitons in complexes as the reaction center core is approached. Efforts to induce similar behavior in biomimetically inspired nanostructures are described. Finally efforts to image exciton flow in light harvesting nanoscale materials are introduced. Use of the Center for Nanoscale Materials was supported by the U. S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.