Nanoantenna-enhanced gas sensing in a single tailored nanofocus

Nat Mater. 2011 May 15;10(8):631-6. doi: 10.1038/nmat3029.


Metallic nanostructures possess plasmonic resonances that spatially confine light on the nanometre scale. In the ultimate limit of a single nanostructure, the electromagnetic field can be strongly concentrated in a volume of only a few hundred nm(3) or less. This optical nanofocus is ideal for plasmonic sensing. Any object that is brought into this single spot will influence the optical nanostructure resonance with its dielectric properties. Here, we demonstrate antenna-enhanced hydrogen sensing at the single-particle level. We place a single palladium nanoparticle near the tip region of a gold nanoantenna and detect the changing optical properties of the system on hydrogen exposure by dark-field microscopy. Our method avoids any inhomogeneous broadening and statistical effects that would occur in sensors based on nanoparticle ensembles. Our concept paves the road towards the observation of single catalytic processes in nanoreactors and biosensing on the single-molecule level.