Plasmonic nanostar photocathodes for optically-controlled directional currents

Jacob Pettine, Priscilla Choo, Fabio Medeghini, Teri W. Odom, David J. Nesbitt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Plasmonic nanocathodes offer unique opportunities for optically driving, switching, and steering femtosecond photocurrents in nanoelectronic devices and pulsed electron sources. However, angular photocurrent distributions in nanoplasmonic systems remain poorly understood and are therefore difficult to anticipate and control. Here, we provide a direct momentum-space characterization of multiphoton photoemission from plasmonic gold nanostars and demonstrate all-optical control over these currents. Versatile angular control is achieved by selectively exciting different tips on single nanostars via laser frequency or linear polarization, thereby rotating the tip-aligned directional photoemission as observed with angle-resolved 2D velocity mapping and 3D reconstruction. Classical plasmonic field simulations combined with quantum photoemission theory elucidate the role of surface-mediated nonlinear excitation for plasmonic field enhancements highly concentrated at the sharp tips (Rtip = 3.4 nm). We thus establish a simple mechanism for femtosecond spatiotemporal current control in designer nanosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1367
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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