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Probing the Raman-active acoustic vibrations of nanoparticles with extraordinary spectral resolution

Abstract

Colloidal quantum dots, viruses, DNA and all other nanoparticles have acoustic vibrations that can act as ‘fingerprints’ to identify their shape, size and mechanical properties, yet high-resolution Raman spectroscopy in this low-energy range has been lacking. Here, we demonstrate extraordinary acoustic Raman (EAR) spectroscopy to measure the Raman-active vibrations of single isolated nanoparticles in the 0.1–10 cm−1 range with 0.05 cm−1 resolution, to resolve peak splitting from material anisotropy and to probe the low-frequency modes of biomolecules. EAR employs a nanoaperture laser tweezer that can select particles of interest and manipulate them once identified. We therefore believe that this nanotechnology will enable expanded capabilities for the study of nanoparticles in the materials and life sciences.

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Figure 1: Working principle of the DNH–EAR experiment.
Figure 2: Experimental set-up.
Figure 3: Raman spectrum of a 20 nm polystyrene nanosphere and experimentally confirmed resonant peaks.
Figure 4: Short-range Raman spectrum of a 20.5 nm titania nanosphere.
Figure 5: Raman spectra of two globular proteins.

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Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge financial support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Discovery Grant programme and the National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship programme.

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S.W. performed the experiment, fabrication, sample preparation, data processing and interpretation, and assisted with manuscript preparation. R.M.G. assisted in the experiments and performed the simulations. R.G. conceived the experimental approach, supervised the experiments and assisted in manuscript preparation.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Reuven Gordon.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Wheaton, S., Gelfand, R. & Gordon, R. Probing the Raman-active acoustic vibrations of nanoparticles with extraordinary spectral resolution. Nature Photon 9, 68–72 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2014.283

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