The coupling with plasmonic metal nanoparticles (NPs) represents a promising opportunity to sensitize wide band gap oxides to visible light. The processes which come into play after the excitation of localized surface plasmon resonances (LSPRs) in the NPs largely determine the efficiency of the charge/ energy transfer from the metal NP to the oxide. We report a study of plasmon-mediated energy transfer from mass-selected silver NPs into the cerium oxide matrix in which they are embedded. Femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy is used to probe the dynamics of charge carrier relaxation after the excitation of the LSPR of the silver nanoparticles and to evaluate the plasmon-mediated electron transfer efficiency from the silver nanoparticles to the cerium oxide. High injection efficiencies in the 6-16% range have been identified for excitation between 400 and 600 nm. These high values have been explained in terms of plasmon-mediated direct electron injection as well as indirect hot electron injection from the NPs to the oxide. The information obtained provides an important contribution towards a knowledge- driven design of efficient cerium oxide based nanostructured materials for solar to chemical energy conversion.
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