Vapor Phase Deposition, Structure, and Plasmonic Properties of Polymer-Based Composites Containing Ag–Cu Bimetallic Nanoparticles


Nanocomposite (NC) thin films with noble metal nanoparticles embedded in a dielectric material show very attractive plasmonic properties due to dielectric and quantum confinement effects. For single component nanoparticles (NPs), the plasmon resonance frequency can only be tuned in a narrow range. Much interest aroused in bimetallic nanoparticles (BNPs), however many wet chemical approaches do not allow large variation of the NP alloy composition and filling factor. Here, we report a vapor phase co-deposition method to produce polymer–metal NCs with embedded Ag1 − x Cu x alloy particles. The method allows production of NPs with controlled alloy composition (x), metal filling (f) and nanostructure in a protecting Teflon AF matrix. The nanostructure size and shape were characterized by transmission electron microscope. Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy was used to determine x and f. The optical properties and the position of surface plasmon resonances were studied by UV–Vis spectroscopy. The plasmon resonances can be tuned over a large range of the visible spectrum associated with the change in x, f, and nanostructure. For low filling factors and small particle sizes, only one resonance peak was observed. This is attributed to enhanced miscibility at the nanoscale. Double plasmon resonances were seen for larger particle sizes in accord with phase separation expected from the bulk phase diagram and were explained in terms of the formation of core-shell structures with Cu core and Ag shell. Changes upon annealing at 200 °C are also reported.
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