Thanks to the potential and various applications of metal-dielectric nanocomposites, their syntheses constitute an interesting subject in material research. In this work, we demonstrate the achievement of gold nanocrystals growth through a visible and continuous laser irradiation. The in situ and direct space-selective generation of metallic nanoparticles is localized under the surface within transparent silica monoliths. For that purpose, the porous silica monoliths are prepared using a sol-gel route and post-doped with gold precursors before the irradiation. The presence of Au nanoparticles inside the irradiated areas was evidenced using absorption spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction analysis and transmission electron microscopy. The comparison between the results obtained after a laser irradiation and by a simple heat-treatment reveals that the local precipitation of gold nanoparticles by continuous photo-irradiation occurs following a photo-thermal activated mechanism. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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