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Room-temperature optical picocavities below 1 nm3 accessing single-atom geometries

AuthorsCarnegie, Cloudy; Griffiths, Jack; Nijs, Bart de; Readman, Charlie; Chikkaraddy, Rohit; Deacon, William M.; Zhang, Yao; Szabó, István; Rosta, Edina; Aizpurua, Javier ; Baumberg, Jeremy J.
Issue Date2018
PublisherAmerican Chemical Society
CitationJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters 9(24): 7146-7151 (2018)
AbstractReproducible confinement of light on the nanoscale is essential for the ability to observe and control chemical reactions at the single-molecule level. Here we reliably form millions of identical nanocavities and show that the light can be further focused down to the subnanometer scale via the creation of picocavities, single-adatom protrusions with angstrom-level resolution. For the first time, we stabilize and analyze these cavities at room temperatures through high-speed surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy on specifically selected molecular components, collecting and analyzing more than 2 million spectra. Data obtained on these picocavities allows us to deduce structural information on the nanoscale, showing that thiol binding to gold destabilizes the metal surface to optical irradiation. Nitrile moieties are found to stabilize picocavities by 10-fold against their disappearance, typically surviving for >1 s. Such constructs demonstrate the accessibility of single-molecule chemistry under ambient conditions.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpclett.8b03466
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