Plasmon coupling in nanorod assemblies: optical absorption, discrete dipole approximation simulation, and exciton-coupling model

Prashant K Jain, Susie Eustis, Mostafa A El-Sayed
Journal of Physical Chemistry. B 2006 September 21, 110 (37): 18243-53
The shape anisotropy of nanorods gives rise to two distinct orientational modes by which nanorods can be assembled, i.e., end-to-end and side-by-side, analogous to the well-known H and J aggregation in organic chromophores. Optical absorption spectra of gold nanorods have earlier been observed to show a red-shift of the longitudinal plasmon band for the end-to-end linkage of nanorods, resulting from the plasmon coupling between neighboring nanoparticles, similar to the assembly of gold nanospheres. We observe, however, that side-by-side linkage of nanorods in solution shows a blue-shift of the longitudinal plasmon band and a red-shift of the transverse plasmon band. Optical spectra calculated using the discrete dipole approximation method were used to simulate plasmon coupling in assembled nanorod dimers. The longitudinal plasmon band is found to shift to lower energies for end-to-end assembly, but a shift to higher energies is found for the side-by-side orientation, in agreement with the optical absorption experiments. The strength of plasmon coupling was seen to increase with decreasing internanorod distance and an increase in the number of interacting nanorods. For both side-by-side and end-to-end assemblies, the strength of the longitudinal plasmon coupling increases with increasing nanorod aspect ratio as a result of the increasing dipole moment of the longitudinal plasmon. For both the side-by-side and end-to-end orientation, the simulation of a dimer of nanorods having dissimilar aspect ratios showed a longitudinal plasmon resonance with both a blue-shifted and a red-shifted component, as a result of symmetry breaking. A similar result is observed for a pair of similar aspect ratio nanorods assembled in a nonparallel orientation. The internanorod plasmon coupling scheme concluded from the experimental results and simulations is found to be qualitatively consistent with the molecular exciton coupling theory, which has been used to describe the optical spectra of H and J aggregates of organic molecules. The coupled nanorod plasmons are also suggested to be electromagnetic analogues of molecular orbitals. Investigation of the plasmon coupling in assembled nanorods is important for the characterization of optical excitations and plasmon propagation in these nanostructures. The surface plasmon resonance shift resulting from nanorod assembly also offers a promising alternative for analyte-sensing assays.

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