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Photoelectron spectroscopy of hot carrier decay in plasmonic nanostructures

   Department of Physics

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  Prof D R Richards, Prof H Fielding, Dr W Dickson, Prof A Zayats  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

London United Kingdom Nanotechnology Optical Physics Physical Chemistry

About the Project

Localised surface plasmons, the coherent oscillations of mobile charge carriers on metallic nanostructures and nanoparticles, enable the nanoscale confinement of light, impossible by any other means, and a strong related electromagnetic field enhancement, leading to a range of applications. A number of loss mechanisms occur for plasmons localised to metallic nanostructures and nanoparticles, including their decay into electron-hole pairs. These 'hot' (out of equilibrium) carriers that are generated may simply lose energy within the material. Alternatively, however, they may transfer to adjacent molecules or materials, influencing physical and chemical processes near the metal surface. This project is concerned with understanding the physics and chemistry of this process, for a range of different plasmonic materials and nanostructures, so that such electronic processes induced by plasmonic excitations may be harnessed for applications, such as optically controlled catalysis.

The project will involve the application of femtosecond time-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (TRPES) as a probe of plasmon-enhanced hot carrier generation and decay in plasmonic nanomaterials, both in ultrahigh vacuum and in aqueous solution. The TRPES spectroscopy measurements will involve the use of femtosecond lasers, an ultrahigh vacuum surface science apparatus with a hemispherical electron energy analyser and a liquid-microjet apparatus with a magnetic-bottle time-of-flight electron analyser. A number of different plasmonic architectures will be considered, including colloidal nanoparticles and metamaterials based on arrays of electro- chemically grown gold nanorods, and characterised using optical extinction spectroscopy coupled with numerical modelling of electromagnetic field simulations. Nanomaterials will be fabricated with properties tuned to explore the dependence of photoelectron emission on resonant excitation of surface plasmons, and on nanostructure geometry.

The project is a collaboration between the Department of Physics at King's College London (David Richards, Anatoly Zayats and Wayne Dickson), and the Department of Chemistry at University College London (Helen Fielding), building on strong research programmes in plasmonics at King's and photoelectron spectroscopy at UCL, with the two departments a short walk or bus journey apart. The student will be registered for a PhD in Physics in King's College London.

To be considered for the position candidates must apply via King’s Apply

online application system. Details are available at

Please indicate your desired supervisor and quote research group [group name] in your application and all correspondence.

The selection process will involve a pre-selection on documents, if selected this will be followed by an invitation to an interview. If successful at the interview, an offer will be provided in due time.

The Physics department at King’s College London is supporting Diversity and Equality, we invite all eligible candidates to apply.

The Physics department at King’s College London was awarded Silver Swan medal and Juno Champion award from IOP.

Funding Notes

Funding is available for 3.5 years and covers tuition fees at the level set for UK/EU students, c. £5,300 p.a. and a tax-free stipend of approximately £17,000 p.a. with possible inflationary increases after the first year.