Simple experimental procedures to distinguish photothermal from hot-carrier processes in plasmonics

Guillaume Baffou*, Ivan Bordacchini, Andrea Baldi, Romain Quidant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Light absorption and scattering of plasmonic metal nanoparticles can lead to non-equilibrium charge carriers, intense electromagnetic near-fields, and heat generation, with promising applications in a vast range of fields, from chemical and physical sensing to nanomedicine and photocatalysis for the sustainable production of fuels and chemicals. Disentangling the relative contribution of thermal and non-thermal contributions in plasmon-driven processes is, however, difficult. Nanoscale temperature measurements are technically challenging, and macroscale experiments are often characterized by collective heating effects, which tend to make the actual temperature increase unpredictable. This work is intended to help the reader experimentally detect and quantify photothermal effects in plasmon-driven chemical reactions, to discriminate their contribution from that due to photochemical processes and to cast a critical eye on the current literature. To this aim, we review, and in some cases propose, seven simple experimental procedures that do not require the use of complex or expensive thermal microscopy techniques. These proposed procedures are adaptable to a wide range of experiments and fields of research where photothermal effects need to be assessed, such as plasmonic-assisted chemistry, heterogeneous catalysis, photovoltaics, biosensing, and enhanced molecular spectroscopy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalLight: Science & Applications
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2020


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