The pulsed laser induced phase transition of gold nanoparticles in aqueous solution was observed via a transient absorption on nanosecond time scales and longer. Gold nanoparticles were excited with an intense picosecond laser pulse (355 nm, 30 ps), and the subsequent changes were monitored using two continuous wave laser wavelengths (488 and 635 nm). On the nanosecond time scale, below 6.3 mJ cm-2, no change was observed; however, in the low fluence region between 6.3 and 17 mJ cm-2, gold nanoparticles produced a bleach signal (488 nm) attributed to the melting of the gold nanoparticles, which decreased linearly with increasing laser fluence. Laser fluences above 17 mJ cm-2 resulted in a strong absorption at both wavelengths, which is ascribed to vaporization of gold nanoparticles rather than solvated electrons (ejected from gold nanoparticles) or light scattering. The decay of both signals was faster than the 5 ns time resolution used in our experimental system. On the microsecond time scale, increase in absorbance at 635 nm was observed with a time constant of 1.0 μs, while no change was observed at 488 nm. It is considered that this increase is attributed to the formation of smaller gold nanoparticles resulting from pulsed laser induced size reduction of initial gold nanoparticles.
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