Tailoring Plasmonics of Au@Ag Nanoparticles by Silica Encapsulation

J. Schultz, F. Kirner, P. Potapov, B. Büchner, L. Axel, and E. V. Sturm


Hybrid metallic nanoparticles (NPs) encapsulated in oxide shells are currently intensely studied for plasmonic applications in sensing, medicine, catalysis, and photovoltaics. Here, a method for the synthesis of Au@Ag@SiO2 cubes with a uniform silica shell of variable and adjustable thickness in the nanometer range is introduced and their excellent, highly reproducible, and tunable optical response is demonstrated. Varying the silica shell thickness, the excitation energies of the single NP plasmon modes can be tuned in a broad spectral range between 2.55 and 3.25 eV. Most importantly, a strong coherent coupling of the surface plasmons is revealed at the silver–silica interface with Mie resonances at the silica–vacuum interface leading to a significant field enhancement at the encapsulated NP surface in the range of 100% at shell thicknesses t ≃ 20 nm. Consequently, the synthesis method and the field enhancement open pathways to a widespread use of silver NPs in plasmonic applications including photonic crystals and may be transferred to other non-precious metals.

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