Sweet plasmonics: sucrose macrocrystals of metal nanoparticles
The realization of plasmonic structures generally necessitates expensive fabrication techniques, such as electron beam and focused ion beam lithography, allowing for the top-down fabrication of low-dimensional structures. Another approach to make plasmonic structures in a bottom-up fashion is colloidal synthesis, which is convenient for liquid-state applications or very thin solid films where aggregation problems are an important challenge. The architectures prepared using these methods are typically not robust enough for easy handling and convenient integration. Therefore, developing a new plasmonic robust platform having large-scale dimensions without adversely affecting the plasmonic features is in high demand. As a solution, here we present a new plasmonic composite structure consisting of gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) incorporated into sucrose macrocrystals on a large scale, while preserving the plasmonic nature of the Au NPs and providing robustness in handling at the same time. As a proof of concept demonstration, we present the fluorescence enhancement of green CdTe quantum dots (QDs) via plasmonic coupling with these Au NPs in the sucrose crystals. The obtained composite material exhibits centimeter scale dimensions and the resulting quantum efficiency (QE) is enhanced via the interplay between the Au NPs and CdTe QDs by 58% (from 24% to 38%). Moreover, a shortening in the photoluminescence lifetime from 11.0 to 7.40 ns, which corresponds to a field enhancement factor of 2.4, is observed upon the introduction of Au NPs into the QD incorporated macrocrystals. These results suggest that such "sweet" plasmonic crystals are promising for large-scale robust platforms to embed plasmonic nanoparticles.