Time-resolved single-particle x-ray scattering reveals electron-density as coherent plasmonic-nanoparticle-oscillation source
preprintposted on 2023-03-10, 17:01 authored by D. Hoeing, R. Salzwedel, L. Worbs, Y. Zhuang, A. K. Samanta, J. Lübke, A. Estillore, K. Dlugolecki, C. Passow, B. Erk
Dynamics of optically-excited plasmonic nanoparticles are presently understood as a series of sequential scattering events, involving thermalization processes after pulsed optical excitation. One important step is the initiation of nanoparticle breathing oscillations. According to established experiments and models, these are caused by the statistical heat transfer from thermalized electrons to the lattice. An additional contribution by hot electron pressure has to be included to account for phase mismatches that arise from the lack of experimental data on the breathing onset. We used optical transient-absorption spectroscopy and time-resolved single-particle x-ray-diffractive imaging to access the excited electron system and lattice. The time-resolved single-particle imaging data provided structural information directly on the onset of the breathing oscillation and confirmed the need for an additional excitation mechanism to thermal expansion, while the observed phase-dependence of the combined structural and optical data contrasted previous studies. Therefore, we developed a new model that reproduces all our experimental observations without using fit parameters. We identified optically-induced electron density gradients as the main driving source.