Collective Mid-Infrared Vibrations in Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering

Mueller, Niclas S;

Arul, Rakesh;

Jakob, Lukas A;

Blunt, Matthew Oliver;

Földes, Tamás;

Rosta, Edina;

Baumberg, Jeremy J;


Collective Mid-Infrared Vibrations in Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering.

Nano Letters


(In press).


Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is typically assumed to occur at individual molecules neglecting intermolecular vibrational coupling. Here, we show instead how collective vibrations from infrared (IR) coupled dipoles are seen in SERS from molecular monolayers. Mixing IR-active molecules with IR-inactive spacer molecules controls the intermolecular separation. Intermolecular coupling leads to vibrational frequency upshifts up to 8 cm–1, tuning with the mixing fraction and IR dipole strength, in excellent agreement with microscopic models and density functional theory. These cooperative frequency shifts can be used as a ruler to measure intermolecular distance and disorder with angstrom resolution. We demonstrate this for photochemical reactions of 4-nitrothiophenol, which depletes the number of neighboring IR-active molecules and breaks the collective vibration, enabling direct tracking of the reaction. Collective molecular vibrations reshape SERS spectra and need to be considered in the analysis of vibrational spectra throughout analytical chemistry and sensing.

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