Classical electrodynamics coupled to quantum mechanics for calculation of molecular optical properties: A RT-TDDFT/FDTD approach

Hanning Chen, Jeffrey M. McMahon, Mark A. Ratner, George C. Schatz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


A new multiscale computational methodology was developed to effectively incorporate the scattered electric field of a plasmonic nanoparticle into a quantum mechanical (QM) optical property calculation for a nearby dye molecule. For a given location of the dye molecule with respect to the nanoparticle, a frequency-dependent scattering response function was first determined by the classical electrodynamics (ED) finite-difference timedomain (FDTD) approach. Subsequently, the time-dependent scattered electric field at the dye molecule was calculated using the FDTD scattering response function through a multidimensional Fourier transform to reflect the effect of polarization of the nanoparticle on the local field at the molecule. Finally, a real-time time-dependent density function theory (RT-TDDFT) approach was employed to obtain a desired optical property (such as absorption cross section) of the dye molecule in the presence of the nanoparticle's scattered electric field. Our hybrid QM/ED methodology was demonstrated by investigating the absorption spectrum of the N3 dye molecule and the Raman spectrum of pyridine, both of which were shown to be significantly enhanced by a 20 nm diameter silver sphere. In contrast to traditional quantum mechanical optical calculations in which the field at the molecule is entirely determined by intensity and polarization direction of the incident light, in this work we show that the light propagation direction as well as polarization and intensity are important to nanoparticle-bound dye molecule response. At no additional computation cost compared to conventional ED and QM calculations, this method provides a reliable way to couple the response of the dye molecule's individual electrons to the collective dielectric response of the nanoparticle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14384-14392
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number34
StatePublished - Sep 2 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Energy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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