, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 39-45
Date: 14 Aug 2008

Optical properties and ultrafast electron dynamics in gold–silver alloy and core–shell nanoparticles

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Silver and gold are the two most popular metals used for many nanoparticle applications, such as surface enhanced Raman scattering or surface enhanced fluorescence, in which the local field enhancement associated with the excitation of the localized surface-plasmon–polariton resonance (SPR) is exploited. Therefore, tunability of the SPR over a wide energy range is required. For this purpose we have investigated core–shell nanoparticles composed of gold and silver with different shell thicknesses as well as the impact of alloying on these nanoparticles due to a tempering process. The nanoparticles were prepared by subsequent deposition of Au and Ag atoms or vice versa on quartz substrates followed by diffusion and nucleation. Their linear extinction spectra were measured as a function of shell thickness and annealing temperature. It turned out that different gold shell thicknesses on silver cores allow a tuning of the SPR position from 2.79 to 2.05 eV, but interestingly without a significant change on the extinction amplitude. Heating of core–shell nanoparticles up to only 540 K leads to the formation of alloy nanoparticles, accompanied by a back shift of the SPR to 2.60 eV. Calculations performed in quasi-static approximation describe the experimental results quite well and prove the structural assignments of the samples. In additional experiments, we applied the well-established persistent spectral hole burning technique to the alloy nanoparticles in order to determine the ultrafast dephasing time T 2. We obtained a dephasing time of T 2=(8.1±1.6) fs, in good agreement with the dephasing time of T 2,∞=8.9 fs, which is already included in the dielectric function of the bulk.