Hot electrons do the impossible: Plasmon-induced dissociation of H 2 on Au

Shaunak Mukherjee, Florian Libisch, Nicolas Large, Oara Neumann, Lisa V. Brown, Jin Cheng, J. Britt Lassiter, Emily A. Carter, Peter Nordlander, Naomi J. Halas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1310 Scopus citations


Heterogeneous catalysis is of paramount importance in chemistry and energy applications. Catalysts that couple light energy into chemical reactions in a directed, orbital-specific manner would greatly reduce the energy input requirements of chemical transformations, revolutionizing catalysis-driven chemistry. Here we report the room temperature dissociation of H2 on gold nanoparticles using visible light. Surface plasmons excited in the Au nanoparticle decay into hot electrons with energies between the vacuum level and the work function of the metal. In this transient state, hot electrons can transfer into a Feshbach resonance of an H2 molecule adsorbed on the Au nanoparticle surface, triggering dissociation. We probe this process by detecting the formation of HD molecules from the dissociations of H2 and D2 and investigate the effect of Au nanoparticle size and wavelength of incident light on the rate of HD formation. This work opens a new pathway for controlling chemical reactions on metallic catalysts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-247
Number of pages8
JournalNano Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • General Materials Science


  • Au/TiO
  • H2 dissociation on Au surface
  • Plasmon
  • hot electrons
  • photocatalysis


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