Alberto Naldoni, Francesca Riboni, Urcan Guler, Alexandra Boltasseva, Vladimir M. Shalaev, Alexander V. Kildishev
June 11, 2016
Photocatalysis uses semiconductors to convert sunlight into chemical energy. Recent reports have shown that plasmonic nanostructures can be used to extend semiconductor light absorption or to drive direct photocatalysis with visible light at their surface. In this review, we discuss the fundamental decay pathway of localized surface plasmons in the context of driving solar-powered chemical reactions. We also review different nanophotonic approaches demonstrated for increasing solar-to-hydrogen conversion in photoelectrochemical water splitting, including experimental observations of enhanced reaction selectivity for reactions occurring at the metalsemiconductor interface. The enhanced reaction selectivity is highly dependent on the morphology, electronic properties, and spatial arrangement of composite nanostructures and their elements. In addition, we report on the particular features of photocatalytic reactions evolving at plasmonic metal surfaces and discuss the possibility of manipulating the reaction selectivity through the activation of targeted molecular bonds. Finally, using solar-to-hydrogen conversion techniques as an example, we quantify the efficacy metrics achievable in plasmon-driven photoelectrochemical systems and highlight some of the new directions that could lead to the practical implementation of solar-powered plasmon-based catalytic devices.