Molecular Orbital Gates for Plasmon Excitation
Future combinations of plasmonics with nanometer-size electronic circuits require strategies to control the electrical excitation of plasmons at the length scale of individual molecules. A unique tool to study the electrical plasmon excitation with ultimate resolution is scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). Inelastic tunnel processes generate plasmons in the tunnel gap that partially radiate into the far field where they are detectable as photons. Here we employ STM to study individual tris-(phenylpyridine)-iridium complexes on a C-60 monolayer, and investigate the influence of their electronic structure on the plasmon excitation between the Ag(111) substrate and an Ag-covered Au tip. We demonstrate that the highest occupied molecular orbital serves as a spatially and energetically confined nanogate for plasmon excitation. This opens the way for using molecular tunnel junctions as electrically controlled plasmon sources.