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Optics and structure of metal clusters at the atomic scale

Abstract : It is well known that the optical properties of nanoparticles of noble metals, in particular gold and silver, deviate strongly from those of macroscopic metals. For sizes between ten and a few hundred nanometers, they are dominated by surface plasmons (SPs) described by purely classical models. On the other hand, clusters of a few tens of atoms behave like quantum systems inducing new optical behaviors. The structure of the nanoparticles and the dielectric environment can affect the optical properties. In this thesis I used a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) fitted with an electron energy loss spectrometer (EELS) to measure, in parallel, the optical and structural properties of individual nanoparticles. I present how complementary experiments (STEM-EELS and optical absorption) on sizeselected small silver nanoparticles embedded in silica yield at first inconsistent results: while optical absorption shows no size-effect in the range between only a few atoms and ~10 nm, a clear spectral shift is observed in STEM-EELS technique. Our quantitative interpretation, based on a mixed classical/quantum model which takes into account all the relevant quantum effects, resolves the apparent contradictions, not only within our experimental data, but also in the literature. Our comprehensive model describes how the local environment is the crucial parameter controlling the manifestation or absence of quantum size effects. Secondly, I was interested in the purely classical region through lithographed structures of a few hundred nanometers. Although triangular plasmonic cavities have been widely studied in the literature, a classification in terms of plasmonic modes of breathing and edge was missing. In this study, experimental STEM-EELS results, analytical models and classical simulations enabled us to describe the nature of the different modes.
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Alfredo Campos Otero. Optics and structure of metal clusters at the atomic scale. Condensed Matter [cond-mat]. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE), 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLS401⟩. ⟨tel-02342598⟩

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