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Nano‐Impact Single‐Entity Electrochemistry Enables Plasmon‐Enhanced Electrocatalysis

Plasmon-enhanced electrocatalysis (PEEC), based on a combination of localized surface plasmon resonance excitation and electrochemical bias applied to a plasmonic material, can result in improved electrical-to-chemical energy conversion compared to conventional electrocatalysis. Here, we demonstrate the advantages of nano-impact single-entity electrochemistry (SEE) for investigating the intrinsic activity of plasmonic catalysts at the single-particle level using glucose electrooxidation and oxygen reduction on gold nanoparticles as model reactions. We show that in conventional ensemble measurements, plasmonic effects have minimal impact on photocurrents. We suggest that this is due to the continuous equilibration of the Fermi level (EF) of the deposited gold nanoparticles with the EF of the working electrode, leading to fast neutralization of hot carriers by the measuring circuit. The photocurrents detected in the ensemble measurements are caused by photo-induced heating of the supporting electrode material. In SEE, the EF of suspended gold nanoparticles is unaffected by the working electrode potential. As a result, plasmonic effects are the dominant source of photocurrents under SEE experimental conditions.

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