Monitoring Charge Density Delocalization upon Plasmon Excitation with Ultrafast Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy

Emily L. Keller, Renee R. Frontiera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Plasmonic materials hold a great deal of potential for advances in energy and chemical applications by converting light into chemical energy. Many of these processes are aided by plasmon-generated hot electrons. However, the interaction between these hot electrons and adsorbed molecules on a plasmonic substrate is not well understood. Using ultrafast surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, we monitor plasmon-molecule interactions in real time using 4-nitrobenzenethiol as a molecular probe. Upon plasmon excitation, we observe transient peak depletions in our ultrafast surface-enhanced Raman spectra on the picosecond time scale. We attribute this peak depletion to a localized surface plasmon resonance red shift as a result of hot electron generation in our aggregated nanoparticles. Once generated, the hot electrons delocalize across the aggregate. By correlating the magnitude of the transient Raman dynamics with the degree of electron delocalization, we estimate charge displacement on the order of 109 electrons per aggregate. This indirect quantification of hot electron delocalization on aggregated nanoparticles will be of use in the rational design of materials for efficient plasmon-driven photochemistry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1039
Number of pages7
JournalACS Photonics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 17 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based on work supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under AFOSR Award No. FA9550-15-1-0022. Parts of this work were carried out in the Characterization Facility at the University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from the NSF through the MRSEC program. The authors thank Prof. David Blank for access to the UV-visible spectrophotometer used for sample characterization, and Prof. Cari Dutcher and Ms. Shweta Narayan for flow volume replenishment simulations.


  • plasmonic photocatalysis
  • surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy
  • ultrafast plasmonics

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