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Disentangling charge carrier from photothermal effects in plasmonic metal nanostructures.


Plasmon-mediated chemical reactions (PMCRs) constitute a vibrant research field, advancing such goals as using sunlight to convert abundant precursors such as CO2 and water to useful fuels and chemicals. A key question in this burgeoning field which has not, as yet, been fully resolved, relates to the precise mechanism through which the energy absorbed through plasmonic excitation, ultimately drives such reactions. Among the multiple processes proposed, two have risen to the forefront: plasmon-increased temperature and generation of energetic charge carriers. However, it is still a great challenge to confidently separate these two effects and quantify their relative contribution to chemical reactions. Here, we describe a strategy based on the construction of a plasmonic electrode coupled with photoelectrochemistry, to quantitatively disentangle increased temperature from energetic charge carriers effects. A clear separation of the two effects facilitates the rational design of plasmonic nanostructures for efficient photochemical applications and solar energy utilization.

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