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Issue 15, 2013
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Nanogap structures: combining enhanced Raman spectroscopy and electronic transport

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Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is an experimental tool for accessing vibrational and chemical information, down to the single molecule level. SERS typically relies on plasmon excitations in metal nanostructures to concentrate the incident radiation and to provide an enhanced photon density of states to couple emitted radiation to the far field. Many common SERS platforms involve metal nanoparticles to generate the required electromagnetic enhancements. Here we concentrate on an alternative approach, in which the relevant plasmon excitations are supported at a truly nanoscale gap between extended electrodes, rather than discrete subwavelength nanoparticles. The ability to fabricate precise gaps on demand, and in some cases to tune the gap size in situ, combined with the additional capability of simultaneous electronic transport measurements of the nanogap, provides access to information not previously available in standard SERS. We summarize the rich plasmonic physics at work in these extended systems and highlight the recent state of the art including tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) and the application of mechanical break junctions and electromigrated junctions. We describe in detail how we have performed in situ gap-enhanced Raman measurements of molecular-scale junctions while simultaneously subjecting these structures to electronic transport. These extended electrode structures allow us to study the pumping of vibrational modes by the flow of tunneling electrons, as well as the shifting of vibrational energies due to the applied bias. These experiments extend SERS into a tool for examining fundamental processes of dissipation, and provide insight into the mechanisms behind SERS spectral diffusion. We conclude with a brief discussion of future directions.

Graphical abstract: Nanogap structures: combining enhanced Raman spectroscopy and electronic transport

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Article information

20 Nov 2012
17 Jan 2013
First published
17 Jan 2013

Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013,15, 5262-5275
Article type

Nanogap structures: combining enhanced Raman spectroscopy and electronic transport

D. Natelson, Y. Li and J. B. Herzog, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013, 15, 5262
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP44142C

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