There is great interest in the development of alternatives to noble metals for plasmonic nanostructures. Transition metal nitrides are promising due to their robust refractory properties. However, the photophysics of these nanostructures, particularly the hot carrier dynamics and photothermal response on ultrafast timescales, are not well understood. This limits their implementation in applications such as photothermal catalysis or solar thermophotovoltaics. In this study, the light-induced relaxation processes in water-dispersed HfN nanoparticles are for the first time, elucidated by fs transient absorption, Lumerical FDTD and COMSOL Multiphysics simulations and temperature-dependent ellipsometry. We unequivocally demonstrate that HfN nanoparticles convert absorbed photons into heat within <100 fs; no signature of hot charge carriers is observed. Interestingly, under high photon energy or intense irradiation stimulated Raman scattering characteristic of oxynitride surface termination is observed. These findings suggest that transition metal nitrides could offer benefits over noble metals in the field of plasmonic photothermal catalysis.

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
Adv. Opt. Mater.
Nanoscale Solar Cells

O'Neill, D., Frehan, S., Zhu, K., Zoethout, E., Mul, G., Garnett, E., … Askes, S. (2021). Ultrafast Photoinduced Heat Generation by Plasmonic HfN Nanoparticles. Adv. Opt. Mater., 9(19), 2100510: 1–11. doi:10.1002/adom.202100510