Modeling super-resolution SERS using a T-matrix method to elucidate molecule-nanoparticle coupling and the origins of localization errors

Charles W. Heaps, George C. Schatz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


A computational method to model diffraction-limited images from super-resolution surface-enhanced Raman scattering microscopy is introduced. Despite significant experimental progress in plasmon-based super-resolution imaging, theoretical predictions of the diffraction limited images remain a challenge. The method is used to calculate localization errors and image intensities for a single spherical gold nanoparticle-molecule system. The light scattering is calculated using a modification of generalized Mie (T-matrix) theory with a point dipole source and diffraction limited images are calculated using vectorial diffraction theory. The calculation produces the multipole expansion for each emitter and the coherent superposition of all fields. Imaging the constituent fields in addition to the total field provides new insight into the strong coupling between the molecule and the nanoparticle. Regardless of whether the molecular dipole moment is oriented parallel or perpendicular to the nanoparticle surface, the anisotropic excitation distorts the center of the nanoparticle as measured by the point spread function by approximately fifty percent of the particle radius toward to the molecule. Inspection of the nanoparticle multipoles reveals that distortion arises from a weak quadrupole resonance interfering with the dipole field in the nanoparticle. When the nanoparticle-molecule fields are in-phase, the distorted nanoparticle field dominates the observed image. When out-of-phase, the nanoparticle and molecule are of comparable intensity and interference between the two emitters dominates the observed image. The method is also applied to different wavelengths and particle radii. At off-resonant wavelengths, the method predicts images closer to the molecule not because of relative intensities but because of greater distortion in the nanoparticle. The method is a promising approach to improving the understanding of plasmon-enhanced super-resolution experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number224201
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 14 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling super-resolution SERS using a T-matrix method to elucidate molecule-nanoparticle coupling and the origins of localization errors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this