Graphene-Based Platform for Infrared Near-Field Nanospectroscopy of Water and Biological Materials in an Aqueous Environment

ACS Nano. 2015 Aug 25;9(8):7968-75. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.5b01184. Epub 2015 Aug 5.


Scattering scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) has emerged as a powerful nanoscale spectroscopic tool capable of characterizing individual biomacromolecules and molecular materials. However, applications of scattering-based near-field techniques in the infrared (IR) to native biosystems still await a solution of how to implement the required aqueous environment. In this work, we demonstrate an IR-compatible liquid cell architecture that enables near-field imaging and nanospectroscopy by taking advantage of the unique properties of graphene. Large-area graphene acts as an impermeable monolayer barrier that allows for nano-IR inspection of underlying molecular materials in liquid. Here, we use s-SNOM to investigate the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) in water underneath graphene. We resolve individual virus particles and register the amide I and II bands of TMV at ca. 1520 and 1660 cm(-1), respectively, using nanoscale Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (nano-FTIR). We verify the presence of water in the graphene liquid cell by identifying a spectral feature associated with water absorption at 1610 cm(-1).

Keywords: biomaterials; infrared nanospectroscopy; nanoimaging; near-field; s-SNOM; water.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Graphite / chemistry*
  • Nanotechnology / instrumentation*
  • Nanotechnology / methods
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared / instrumentation*
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared / methods
  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus / ultrastructure
  • Water / chemistry


  • Water
  • Graphite