ZnO has attracted growing research attention as a strong candidate material for various optoelectronic device applications. It is important to understand and control the interactions between surface plasmons (SPs) and charge carriers in metal-ZnO hybrid nanostructures to improve the optical characteristics. In this work, we fabricated ZnO/Ag nanogratings using patterned polymer and Si templates. Excitation of the surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) well explained the optical reflectance and photoluminescence spectra of the ZnO/Ag nanogratings [1,2]. Nanoscopic mapping of surface photovoltage (SPV), i.e., changes in the surface potential under illumination, obtained by Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) enabled us to investigate the local behaviors of the photo-generated carriers. The magnitude and relaxation time of the measured SPV depended on the wavelength and polarization of the incident light . This showed that the SP excitation in the nanogratings directly affected the creation and recombination processes of the charge carriers. All of these results suggested that SPV measurements using KPFM should be very useful for studying the SP effects in metal/semiconductor hybrid nanostructures.
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 Gwon et al., Sci. Rep. 5, 16727; doi: 10.1038/srep16727 (2015).