Monitoring the Dynamic Process of Formation of Plasmonic Molecular Junctions during Single Nanoparticle Collisions

Small. 2018 Apr;14(15):e1704164. doi: 10.1002/smll.201704164. Epub 2018 Mar 1.


The capability to study the dynamic formation of plasmonic molecular junction is of fundamental importance, and it will provide new insights into molecular electronics/plasmonics, single-entity electrochemistry, and nanooptoelectronics. Here, a facile method to form plasmonic molecular junctions is reported by utilizing single gold nanoparticle (NP) collision events at a highly curved gold nanoelectrode modified with a self-assembled monolayer. By using time-resolved electrochemical current measurement and surface-enhanced Raman scattering spectroscopy, the current changes and the evolution of interfacial chemical bonding are successfully observed in the newly formed molecular tunnel junctions during and after the gold NP "hit-n-stay" and "hit-n-run" collision events. The results lead to an in-depth understanding of the single NP motion and the associated molecular level changes during the formation of the plasmonic molecular junctions in a single NP collision event. This method also provides a new platform to study molecular changes at the single molecule level during electron transport in a dynamic molecular tunnel junction.

Keywords: SERS; molecular electronics; molecular plasmonics; single nanoparticle collision; single-entity electrochemistry.