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Imaging Local Heating and Thermal Diffusion of Nanomaterials with Plasmonic Thermal Microscopy

Measuring local heat generation and dissipation in nanomaterials is critical for understanding the basic properties, and developing applications of nanomaterials, including photothermal therapy and joule heating of nanoelectronics. Several technologies have been developed to probe local temperature distributions in nanomaterials, but a sensitive thermal imaging technology with high temporal and spatial resolution is still lacking. Here, we describe plasmonic thermal microscopy (PTM) to image local heat generation and diffusion from nanostructures in biologically relevant aqueous solutions. We demonstrate that PTM can detect local temperature change as small as 6 mK with temporal resolution of 10 ms and spatial resolution of sub-microns (diffraction limit). With PTM we have successfully imaged photothermal generation from single nanoparticles and graphene pieces, studied spatiotemporal distribution of temperature surrounding a heated nanoparticle, and observed heating at defect sites in graphene. We further show that the PTM images are in quantitative agreement with theoretical simulations based on heat transport theories.