Coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering with single-molecule sensitivity using a plasmonic Fano resonance

Nat Commun. 2014 Jul 14;5:4424. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5424.


Plasmonic nanostructures are of particular interest as substrates for the spectroscopic detection and identification of individual molecules. Single-molecule sensitivity Raman detection has been achieved by combining resonant molecular excitation with large electromagnetic field enhancements experienced by a molecule associated with an interparticle junction. Detection of molecules with extremely small Raman cross-sections (~10(-30) cm(2) sr(-1)), however, has remained elusive. Here we show that coherent anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy (CARS), a nonlinear spectroscopy of great utility and potential for molecular sensing, can be used to obtain single-molecule detection sensitivity, by exploiting the unique light harvesting properties of plasmonic Fano resonances. The CARS signal is enhanced by ~11 orders of magnitude relative to spontaneous Raman scattering, enabling the detection of single molecules, which is verified using a statistically rigorous bi-analyte method. This approach combines unprecedented single-molecule spectral sensitivity with plasmonic substrates that can be fabricated using top-down lithographic strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.