(Figure Presented) This Account provides an overview of the methods that are currently being used to study the electromagnetics of silver and gold nanoparticles, with an emphasis on the determination of extinction and surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectra. These methods have proven to be immensely useful in recent years for interpreting a wide range of nanoscience experiments and providing the capability to describe optical properties of particles up to several hundred nanometers in dimension, including arbitrary particle structures and complex dielectric environments (adsorbed layers of molecules, nearby metal films, and other particles). While some of the methods date back to Mie's celebrated work a century ago, others are still at the forefront of algorithm development in computational electromagnetics. This Account gives a qualitative description of the physical and mathematical basis behind the most commonly used methods, including both analytical and numerical methods, as well as representative results of applications that are relevant to current experiments. The analytical methods that we discuss are either derived from Mie theory for spheres or from the quasistatic (Gans) model as applied to spheres and spheroids. In this discussion, we describe the use of Mie theory to determine electromagnetic contributions to SERS enhancements that include for retarded dipole emission effects, and the use of the quasistatic approximation for spheroidal particles interacting with dye adsorbate layers. The numerical methods include the discrete dipole approximation (DDA), the finite difference time domain (FDTD) method, and the finite element method (FEM) based on Whitney forms. We discuss applications such as using DDA to describe the interaction of two gold disks to define electromagnetic hot spots, FDTD for light interacting with metal wires that go from particle-like plasmonic response to the film-like transmission as wire dimension is varied, and FEM studies of electromagnetic fields near cubic particles.
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