Single-molecule vibrational spectroscopy and microscopy

Science. 1998 Jun 12;280(5370):1732-5. doi: 10.1126/science.280.5370.1732.


Vibrational spectra for a single molecule adsorbed on a solid surface have been obtained with a scanning tunneling microscope (STM). Inelastic electron tunneling spectra for an isolated acetylene (C2H2) molecule adsorbed on the copper (100) surface showed an increase in the tunneling conductance at 358 millivolts, resulting from excitation of the C-H stretch mode. An isotopic shift to 266 millivolts was observed for deuterated acetylene (C2D2). Vibrational microscopy from spatial imaging of the inelastic tunneling channels yielded additional data to further distinguish and characterize the two isotopes. Single-molecule vibrational analysis should lead to better understanding and control of surface chemistry at the atomic level.