Nanoparticles—regularly patterned or randomly dispersed—are a key ingredient for emerging technologies in photonics. Of particular interest are scattering and field enhancement effects of metal nanoparticles for energy harvesting and converting systems. An often neglected aspect in the modeling of nanoparticles are light interaction effects at the ultimate nanoscale beyond classical electrodynamics. Those arise from microscopic electron dynamics in confined systems, the accelerated motion in the plasmon oscillation and the quantum nature of the free electron gas in metals, such as Coulomb repulsion and electron diffusion. We give a detailed account on free electron phenomena in metal nanoparticles and discuss analytic expressions stemming from microscopic (Random Phase Approximation—RPA) and semi-classical (hydrodynamic) theories. These can be incorporated into standard computational schemes to produce more reliable results on the optical properties of metal nanoparticles. We combine these solutions into a single framework and study systematically their joint impact on isolated Au, Ag, and Al nanoparticles as well as dimer structures. The spectral position of the plasmon resonance and its broadening as well as local field enhancement show an intriguing dependence on the particle size due to the relevance of additional damping channels.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited