Ultrafast laser measurements probe the nonequilibrium dynamics of excited electrons in metals with increasing temporal resolution. Electronic structure calculations can provide a detailed microscopic understanding of hot electron dynamics, but a parameter-free description of pump-probe measurements has not yet been possible, despite intensive research, because of the phenomenological treatment of electron-phonon interactions. We present ab initio predictions of the electron-temperature dependent heat capacities and electron-phonon coupling coefficients of plasmonic metals. We find substantial differences from free-electron and semiempirical estimates, especially in noble metals above transient electron temperatures of 2000 K, because of the previously neglected strong dependence of electron-phonon matrix elements on electron energy. We also present first-principles calculations of the electron-temperature dependent dielectric response of hot electrons in plasmonic metals, including direct interband and phonon-assisted intraband transitions, facilitating complete theoretical predictions of the time-resolved optical probe signatures in ultrafast laser experiments.

Last updated on 07/13/2018