Plasmons in nearly touching metallic nanoparticles: singular response in the limit of touching dimers
The response of gold nanoparticle dimers is studied theoretically near and beyond the limit where the particles are touching. As the particles approach each other, a dominant dipole feature is observed that is pushed into the infrared due to interparticle coupling and that is associated with a large pileup of induced charge in the interparticle gap. The redshift becomes singular as the particle separation decreases. The response weakens for very small separation when the coupling across the interparticle gap becomes so strong that dipolar oscillations across the pair are inhibited. Lowerwavelength, higher-order modes show a similar separation dependence in nearly touching dimers. After touching, singular behavior is observed through the emergence of a new infrared absorption peak, also accompanied by huge charge pileup at the interparticle junction, if initial interparticle-contact is made at a single point. This new mode is distinctly different from the lowest mode of the separated dimer. When the junction is made by contact between flat surfaces, charge at the junction is neutralized and mode evolution is continuous through contact. The calculated singular response explains recent experiments on metallic nanoparticle dimers and is relevant in the design of nanoparticle-based sensors and plasmon circuits.