Letter | Published:

Catalytic processes monitored at the nanoscale with tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy

Nature Nanotechnology volume 7, pages 583586 (2012) | Download Citation

Abstract

Heterogeneous catalysts play a pivotal role in the chemical industry, but acquiring molecular insights into functioning catalysts remains a significant challenge1,2,3,4. Recent advances in micro-spectroscopic approaches have allowed spatiotemporal information to be obtained on the dynamics of single active sites and the diffusion of single molecules5,6. However, these methods lack nanometre-scale spatial resolution and/or require the use of fluorescent labels. Here, we show that time-resolved tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy can monitor photocatalytic reactions at the nanoscale. We use a silver-coated atomic force microscope tip to both enhance the Raman signal and to act as the catalyst. The tip is placed in contact with a self-assembled monolayer of p-nitrothiophenol molecules adsorbed on gold nanoplates. A photocatalytic reduction process is induced at the apex of the tip with green laser light, while red laser light is used to monitor the transformation process during the reaction. This dual-wavelength approach can also be used to observe other molecular effects such as monolayer diffusion.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by NanoNextNL of the Dutch ministry EL&I and 130 partners. The authors also thank the Netherlands Research School Combination–Catalysis (NRSC-C) and Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO-CW Top research grant) for financial support.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis, Debye Institute for Nanomaterial Science, Utrecht University, Universiteitsweg 99, 3584 CG Utrecht, The Netherlands

    • Evelien M. van Schrojenstein Lantman
    • , Arjan J. G. Mank
    •  & Bert M. Weckhuysen
  2. Institute of Photonic Technology, Albert-Einstein-Strasse 9, D-07745 Jena, Germany

    • Tanja Deckert-Gaudig
    •  & Volker Deckert
  3. Molecular and Surface Analysis, Philips Innovation Services, High Tech Campus 11, 5656 AE Eindhoven, The Netherlands

    • Arjan J. G. Mank
  4. Physical Chemistry, Friedrich-Schiller University Jena, Helmholtzweg, 07743 Jena, Germany

    • Volker Deckert

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Contributions

E.M.v.S.L., T.D.-G. and A.J.G.M. carried out the experiments and E.M.v.S.L. performed data processing. V.D. and T.D.-G. developed the experimental set-up. E.M.v.S.L., A.J.G.M. and B.M.W. designed the experiments. All authors contributed to the discussion of the results as well as to the preparation and writing of the manuscript. The research was directed by B.M.W.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Volker Deckert or Bert M. Weckhuysen.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2012.131

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