Nanoparticles heat through light localization

Nathaniel J. Hogan, Alexander S. Urban, Ciceron Ayala-Orozco, Alberto Pimpinelli, Peter Nordlander, Naomi J. Halas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

380 Scopus citations


Aqueous solutions containing light-absorbing nanoparticles have recently been shown to produce steam at high efficiencies upon solar illumination, even when the temperature of the bulk fluid volume remains far below its boiling point. Here we show that this phenomenon is due to a collective effect mediated by multiple light scattering from the dispersed nanoparticles. Randomly positioned nanoparticles that both scatter and absorb light are able to concentrate light energy into mesoscale volumes near the illuminated surface of the liquid. The resulting light absorption creates intense localized heating and efficient vaporization of the surrounding liquid. Light trapping-induced localized heating provides the mechanism for low-temperature light-induced steam generation and is consistent with classical heat transfer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4640-4645
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 13 2014


  • Plasmon
  • nanoscale heating
  • radiative transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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