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DOI 10.1007/s11051-010-0058-4

RESEARCH PAPER

nanodimers on surface plasmon resonances

Yuan-Fong Chau Han-Hsuan Yeh

Received: 21 April 2010 / Accepted: 5 August 2010 / Published online: 19 August 2010

Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Abstract We investigated numerically the scattering cross sections and near-field intensities of solidsilver and silver-shell (shell thickness d = 10 nm)

nanodimers that interact with incident plane wave by

the use of finite-element method with three-dimensional models. Results show that the silver-shell cases

exhibit tunable surface plasmon resonances and its

rotational effects can induce more surface plasmons

in a wider range of wavelength that are not observed

for the solid-silver cases with the same volume

(1,046,666 nm3).

Keywords Nanodimers Surface plasmon

resonances Finite element method Modeling and

simulation Metal nanoshells

Introduction

Metal nanoshells are a new class of nanoparticles with

highly tunable optical properties and plasmon resonance, allowing materials to be specially designed to

match the wavelength required for a particular application. Metal nanoshells possess several attractive features

which make them interesting as nanoscale optical

components (Averitt et al. 1997; Chau et al. 2010).

Y.-F. Chau (&) H.-H. Yeh

Department of Electronic Engineering, Ching Yun

University, Jung-Li, Taiwan 320, ROC

e-mail: yfc01@cyu.edu.tw

Zhou et al. (1994), consists of an Au2S dielectric core

surrounded by a gold nanoshell. Several numerical

studies of this phenomenon have been performed on

different particle shapes (Kottmann et al. 2000) and

particles surrounded by nanoshells (Prodan et al. 2003;

Oubre and Nordlander 2005). Arrays of metallic

nanoparticles are also used to transfer electromagnetic

energy in the near-field regime (Quinten et al. 1998;

Chen et al. 2009). However, the effects on various

patterns of three-dimensional (3-D) metal-shell nanodimers have not been considered. In recent years, the

physical and chemical properties of metallic nanoshells

have received particular attention (Husu et al. 2008; Hu

et al. 2009). They possess a plasmon-derived tunable

optical resonance controlled by the dimensions of

hollows in the nanodimer and the thickness of the

metallic shell, spanning much of the visible and infrared

regions of the optical spectrum (Hu et al. 2009).

In this paper, we study the light scattering cross

sections (SCSs) and near-field intensities on various

geometries of solid-silver and silver-shell nanodimer

interacting with a transverse magnetic (TM)-mode

incident plane wave in 3-D models using the finiteelement method (FEM). The enclosure of a pair of

nanodimer which electromagnetic field is effectively

confined in the gap and the surface of the nanodimer

can generate high local-field enhancement. We have

compared the optical response in near-field zone of

the solid-silver nanodimer with the silver-shell one.

The influences of wavelength of incident light on

123

638

wavelength, the surface plasmon resonances (SPRs)

are clearly dipolar and can be satisfactorily described

by the lowest order of the series of spherical harmonics

of Mie theory. For larger particles, typically in the

100 nm range, retardation effects inside the plasmonic

particles lead to the appearance of higher order

multipolar plasmon resonances that show off as new

features in the optical spectra (Marty et al. 2010). SPRs

are usually sensitive to different wavelengths of incident light. For a solid-silver nanoparticle, strong light

absorbing and scattering occur at plasmon resonance

frequency and high local fields were excited around the

nanoparticle. However, in a system consisting of a pair

of nanoparticles, the SPR condition is modified for

particleparticle interaction and the absorption curve

is broadened. It is necessary to investigate the wavelength-dependent responses of nanoparticle pair to

understand the roles of surface plasmon effects and

particleparticle interaction (Chau et al. 2008, 2007).

For convenience, we name the solid-silver nanodimer as case 1 and the silver-shell nanodimer as case

2 (see Fig. 1e). Four patterns, i.e., (a) spherical, (b)

elliptical, (c) cone of and (d) boxy silver nanodimer

with the same outer volumes V = 1,046,666 nm3, are

analyzed for comparison, as shown in Fig. 1ad. We

compare the SCSs and near-field optical response of

case 1 with case 2, which are illuminated with a

The dispersion properties of the metal must be

considered here since the absorption and permittivity

of the metallic material are frequency dependent. The

Drude model is used to describe the dependence of

the metallic permittivity on the frequency (Gresho

and Sani 2000). The 3-D FEM that we applied to

metal nanoparticles was comprehensively described

in Gresho and Sani (2000). Silver permittivity data

are obtained from Johnson and Christy (1972) and

corrected with the Drude model, which includes the

size effect (Okamoto and Kawata 2001). In our

formulation we used triangular high order edge

elements. To model an infinite simulation region

with a 3-D finite-geometry model (i.e., to enclose the

computational domain without affecting the numerical solution), it is necessary to use anisotropic

perfectly matched layers (PMLs) (Gresho and Sani

2000) that are placed before the outer boundary. This

formulation can be used to deal with anisotropic

material in terms of both dielectric permittivity and

magnetic permeability, allowing anisotropic PMLs to

be implemented directly.

Fig. 1 Four patterns of

simulation models:

a spherical, b elliptical,

c cone of and d boxy silvershell nanodimers with the

same volumes

V = 1,046,666 nm3.

e Schematic model of case 1

(solid nanodimer) and

case 2 (shell-like

nanodimer)

gap=30nm

gap=30nm

(ratio=0.75)

Ag

Ag

k0

(radius=50 nm)

Ag

3

V=1046666

nm

V=

Ag

k0

V=1046666 nm3

y

gap=30nm

x

Ag

gap=30nm

Ag

Ag

(e)

air

E

V=1046666 nm3

V=

123

10nm

Ag

Ag

Case 2: silver shell

k0

V=

V=1046666

nm3

transverse magnetic

(TM) incident plane wave and

*

propagated in* the k 0 direction. The* direction of the

electric field E is perpendicular to k 0 and parallel to

the plane of incidence. The wavelength of incident

light varies from 300 to 800 nm and the near-field

intensity is measured in the central part of the gap

(interparticle distance). The effect of gap should be

considered and the gap is set to g = 30 nm based on

our previous work (Chau et al. 2008).

Near-field intensities of local fields in the gaps

between two nanoparticles are also quite sensitive to

the radius of the nanoparticles. The thickness of metal

shell represents the distance over which this interaction takes place. The plasmon coupling strength

between the core (hollow in nanoshell) and nanometal modes vanishes over the shell thickness

d similar to the decay of the plasmonic field in the

interparticle gap of the particle-pair system. In the

nanoshell system, we can expect the fractional shift

of the dipolar resonance to be a function of d, where

d is the shell thickness. In other words, a larger

hollow has a larger polarizability and a thinner shell

ensures stronger near-field coupling, thus leading to a

larger fractional plasmon shift. On the basis of our

simulations, we set the shell thickness d = 10 nm.

When a solid-silver nanodimer (case 1) is illuminated

by incident light, the oscillating electric field causes

the conduction electrons to oscillate coherently.

When the electron cloud is displaced relative to the

nuclei, a restoring force arises from Coulomb attraction between electrons and nuclei that results in

oscillation of the electron cloud relative to the nuclear

framework. The oscillation frequency is determined

by four factors: the density of electrons, the effective

electron mass, the shape and size of the charge

distribution. The collective oscillation of the electrons is called the dipole plasmon resonance of the

particle to distinguish from plasmon excitation that

can occur in bulk metal or metal surfaces. Higher

modes of plasmon excitation can occur, such as the

quadrupole mode where half of the electron cloud

moves parallel to the applied field and half moves

antiparallel. Compared to the silver-shell nanodimer

(case 2), more regions of positive and negative charge

pair accumulations are located at inner and outer

corners and adjacent sides.

First, we investigate the difference of the SCSs and

near-field intensities as a function of wavelength on

cases 1 and 2 which are illuminated with a TM

639

amount of light scattered in the far field. Figure 2ad

show the simulation results of the SCS and near-field

intensities of cases 1 and 2 as a function of

wavelengths of incident light. For the spherical case

as shown in Fig. 2a, it can be clearly seen that a

resonance peaks corresponding to the SPR mode can

be found at k = 406 nm. An obvious red-shift and

SCS enhancement occurred in case 2 of spherical case

when a solid-silver nanodimer is replaced by a silvershell one, and the corresponding peak resonance of

SPR is at k = 548 nm. Note that the near-field

intensity has the same tendency as SCSs as shown

in Fig. 2e. Compared to the similar cases of ellipse,

cone and box as shown in Fig. 2bd, eg, an obvious

red-shift also occurred when case 1 is replaced by case

2, and both the position of SCS peaks and the nearfield intensities of case 2 are higher than those of case

1. The corresponding TM-mode near-field distributions in cases 1 and 2: (a) k = 406 nm for a solid

spherical dimer, (b) k = 548 nm for a nanoshell

spherical dimer, (c) k = 440 nm for a solid elliptical

dimer, (d) k = 580 nm for a nanoshell elliptical

dimer, (e) k = 450 nm for a solid triangular dimer,

(f) k = 548 nm for a nanoshell triangular dimer, (g)

k = 530 nm for a solid boxy dimmer and (h) k =

600 nm for a nanoshell boxy dimer are depicted in

Fig. 3. It can be clearly seen from Fig. 3 that the nearfield distributions and edge enhancement obtained

form case 2 are larger than those of case 1. These

phenomena can be explained by the combination of

SPR and the hollow effects inside the nanodimer, and

the excited SPRs cover a more extended region of

positive and negative charge pairs. The drastic

increase in the degree of red-shifting in this case is

due to the results from the fact that the interaction is

mediated by the electromagnetic near field, which

increases rapidly toward the shell surface (inner and

outer surfaces). This effect can be applied to nanoparticle-based sensing or nanoantenna applications

(Chau et al. 2010).

As deduced from the previous simulation results,

now we investigate the rotational effects on the same

cases of ellipse, cone and box but rotating to an angle

of 45 as shown in Fig. 4. In case 2 system with a

rotating angle of 45, the similar tendency of SCSs

and much higher field enhancement than those

obtained from case 1 can be also seen in Fig. 5.

Compared to the results of non-rotating cases (see

123

640

Fig. 2 ad Scattering cross sections of cases 1 and 2 as a function of wavelengths of incident light. eh Near-field intensities of

cases 1 and 2 as a function of wavelengths of incident light

123

641

9

10

case 1

10

10

(e)

triangular dimer

case 1

ca s e 1

case 1

6

5

3

z

406nm

0

15

12

440nm

case 2

450nm

0

15

ca s e 2

triangular dimer

case 2

x

x

548nm

580nm

cases 1 and 2: a k = 406 nm for a solid spherical dimer,

b k = 548 nm for a nanoshell spherical dimer, c k = 440 nm

for a solid elliptical dimer, d k = 580 nm for a nanoshell

elliptical dimer

gap=30nm

gap=30nm

Ag

Ag

Ag

Ag

z

k0

k0

(a)

case 2

gap=30nm

(c)

Ag

boxy dimer

Ag

k0

10

7

530nm

0

14

(f)

b cone of and c boxy rotational nanodimers with the same

volumes V = 1,046,666 nm3

cases as shown in Fig. 5df are much higher than

those of non-rotating cases. These cases are like

nanoscale or nanoshell dipole nanoantennas (Chau

et al. 2010), intense and opposite charge distributions

accumulate at the facing edges when the field is

polarized along the main axis. The SCSs and nearfield intensities observed in Fig. 5af are directly

related to the charge amount accumulated along the

sides and the facing corners (or edges) of the silvershell nanodimer (case 2). In molecular physics the

interactions are usually expressed in terms of coupled

multipolar moments (Kottmann and Martin 2001). In

a same manner, the electronic response of plasmonic

548nm

0

600nm

0

f k = 548 nm for a nanoshell triangular dimer, g k = 530 nm

for a solid boxy dimmer and h k = 600 nm for a nanoshell

boxy dimer

multipoles and can be used to design structure with

optimized radiative losses, for example, by controlling the magnitude of the induced dipole moment.

The corresponding TM-mode near-field distributions for rotational cases, i.e., (a) k = 480 nm for

elliptical case 1, (b) k = 585 nm for elliptical case 2,

(c) k = 471 nm for cone of case 1, (d) k = 560 nm

for cone of case 2, (e) k = 496 nm for boxy case 1,

and (f) k = 560 nm for boxy case 2 are depicted in

Fig. 6. In case 1, the high local-field enhancements

appear in the vicinity of the solid-silver nanodimer

and light is confined effectively in the gap of the pair

due to the surface plasmon excitation. The field

localization in the gap of a solid-silver nanodimer is

determined by the polarization direction of the

electric field of the incident light. For a single-pair

system, the local field vanishes in the gap of the

nanocylinder pair when the direction of the incident

electric field is perpendicular to the major axis of the

pair. Turning to the silver-shell nanodimer, the strong

electromagnetic coupling between the inner and outer

shell walls when the thickness (d = 10 nm) is small

compared to the nanocylindrical radius.

Conclusion

Numerical investigations based on the FEM have

been carried out to 3-D solid-silver nanodimer and

silver-shell nanodimer of various geometries that

123

642

Fig. 5 ac SCSs of rotational cases 1 and 2 as a function of wavelengths of incident light. df Near-field intensities of rotational

cases 1 and 2 as a function of wavelengths of incident light

magnetic polarization. The SCSs and near-field

intensities are obtained as a function of wavelength.

123

tunable SPRs in the near-field zone that are not

observed for the solid cases with the same volumes.

9

643

25

(a)

30

(c)

rotational triangular dimer

6

20

12

x

3

10

case 1

8

471nm

40

(b)

60

(d)

rotational triangular dimer

30

case 2

10

585nm

0

case 1

496nm

(f)

rotational boxy dimer

40

x

x

z

20

x

4

case 1

480nm

14

(e)

rotational boxy dimer

20

y

case 2

560nm

case 2

560nm

rotational cases, i.e., a k = 480 nm for elliptical case 1,

b k = 585 nm for elliptical case 2, c k = 471 nm for cone of

boxy case 1, and f k = 560 nm for boxy case 2

silver-shell cases can induce more SPRs than the

solid-silver cases in a wider range of wavelength.

This effect can be applied to nanoparticle-based

sensing or nanoantenna. In addition, the electronic

response of plasmonic nanoparticles can be expanded

as a series of electric multipoles and can be used to

design structure with optimized radiative losses, for

example, by controlling the magnitude of the induced

dipole moment.

Chau YF, Yeh HH, Tsai DP (2008) Near-field optical properties and surface plasmon effects generated by a dielectric

hole in a silver-shell nanocylinder pair. Appl Opt 47:

55575561

Chau YF, Yeh HH, Tsai DP (2010) A new type of optical

antenna: plasmonics nanoshell bowtie antenna with

dielectric holes. J Electromagn Waves Appl 24:16211632

Chen C, Loo J, Deng M, Ronald K, Roeland H, Carmen B,

Guido M, Gustaaf B (2009) Hollow platinum nanoshell

tube arrays: fabrication and characterization. J Phys Chem

C 113:54725477

Gresho PM, Sani RL (2000) Incompressible flow and finite

element method, vol 1, 2. Wiley, New York

Hu Y, Fleming CR, Drezek RA (2009) Optical properties of

gold-silica-gold multilayer nanoshells. Opt Express 16:

1957919591

Husu H, Canfield BK, Laukkanen J, Bai B, Kuittinen M,

Turunen J, Kauranen M (2008) Chiral coupling in gold

nanodimers. Appl Phys Lett 93:183115183118

Johnson PB, Christy RW (1972) Optical constants of the noble

metals. Phys Rev B 6:43704379

Kottmann J, Martin O (2001) Plasmon resonant coupling in

metallic nanowires. Opt Express 8:655663

Kottmann JP, Martin OJF, Smith DR, Schultz S (2000) Spectral response of plasmon resonant nanoparticles with a

non-regular shape. Opt Express 6:213219

Marty R, Baffou G, Arbouet A, Girard C, Quidant R (2010)

Charge distribution induced inside complex plasmonic

nanoparticles. Opt Express 18:30353044

Okamoto T, Kawata S (2001) Near-field optics and surface

plasmon polaritons. Springer, Berlin, p 99

support from National Science Council, Taiwan, ROC, under

Grant number NSC 99-2112-M-231-001-MY3 and NSC-992120-M-002-012. They would also like to thank National

Center for High-Performance Computing for support by

providing computing facility and software.

References

Averitt R, Sarkar D, Halas N (1997) Plasmon resonance shifts

of Au-coated Au2S nanoshells: insight into multicomponent nanoparticle growth. Phys Rev Lett 78:42174220

Chau YF, Tsai DP (2007) Three-dimensional analysis of silver

nano-particles doping effects on super resolution nearfield structure. Opt Commun 269:389394

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Oubre C, Nordlander P (2005) Finite-difference time-domain

studies of the optical properties of nanoshell dimmers.

J Phys Chem B 109:1004210051

Prodan E, Radloff C, Halas NJ, Nordlander P (2003) A

hybridization model for the plasmon response of complex

nanostructures. Science 302:419422

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Quinten M, Leitner A, Krenn J, Aussenegg F (1998) Electromagnetic energy transport via linear chains of silver

nanoparticles. Opt Lett 23:13311333

Zhou S, Honma HSI, Komiyama H (1994) Controlled synthesis

and quantum-size effect in gold-coated nanoparticles.

Phys Rev B 50:1205212056

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