The plasmonic properties of tip-substrate composite systems are of vital importance to near-field optical spectroscopy, in particular tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS), which enables operando studies of nanoscale chemistry at a single molecule level. The nanocavities formed in the tip-substrate junction also offer a highly tunable platform for studying field-matter interactions at the nanoscale. While the coupled nanoparticle dimer model offers a correct qualitative description of gap-mode plasmon effects, it ignores the full spectrum of multipolar tip plasmon modes and their interaction with surface plasmon polariton (SPP) excitation in the substrate. Herein, we perform the first tip-enhanced Raman excitation spectroscopy (TERES) experiment and use the results, both in ambient and aqueous media, in combination with electrodynamics simulations, to explore the plasmonic response of a Au tip-Au substrate composite system. The gap-mode plasmon features a wide spectral window corresponding to a host of tip plasmon modes interacting with the plasmonic substrate. Simulations of the electric field confinement demonstrate that optimal spatial resolution is achieved when a hybrid plasmon mode that combines a multipolar tip plasmon and a substrate SPP is excited. Nevertheless, a wide spectral window over 1000 nm is available for exciting the tip plasmon with high spatial resolution, which enables the simultaneous resonant detection of different molecular species. This window is robust as a function of tip-substrate distance and tip radius of curvature, indicating that many choices of tips will work, but it is restricted to wavelengths longer than ∼600 nm for the Au tip-Au substrate combination. Other combinations, such as Ag tip-Ag substrate, can access wavelengths as low as 350 nm.
Keywords: gap-mode plasmon; plasmonic nanocavity; tip-enhanced Raman excitation spectroscopy (TERES).