Modulating the Electron Affinity of Small Bipyridyl Molecules on Single Gold Nanoparticles for Plasmon-Driven Electron Transfer

Emily A. Sprague-Klein, Rosina Ho-Wu, Duc Nguyen, Scott C. Coste, Yue Wu, John J. McMahon, Tamar Seideman, George C. Schatz*, Richard P Van Duyne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Developing controlled platforms for plasmon-driven chemistry is of great importance in catalytic reactions at the nanoscale. We report anion radical formation for five bipyridyl complexes of varying degrees of electron affinity utilizing optically focused intraband (594 nm) and interband (532 nm) pump excitation of single gold nanoparticles. The surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) of anion radicals for the five nonresonant adsorbed molecules, 2,2′-bipyridine (22BPY), 4,4′-bipyridine (44BPY), trans-1,2-bis(4-pyridyl)ethylene (BPE), 1,2-bis(4-pyridyl)acetylene (BPA), and 1,2-bis(4-pyridyl)ethane (BPEt), were detected using localized surface-plasmon resonance (LSPR) excitation with 785 nm. The electron affinity of the five bipyridyl complexes were determined using electrochemistry. Molecules with low electron affinity experienced higher instances of radical anion formation under a plasmon-coupled intraband electron transfer excitation (594 nm), whereas molecules with high electron affinity showed a preference for anion radical formation under direct interband electron transfer excitation (532 nm). The lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) energy levels for low electron affinity surface-bound molecules (22BPY, BPEt) are on average ∼0.43 eV higher than high electron affinity surface-bound molecules (BPA, BPE, 44BPY), as calculated using time-dependent density functional theory, elucidating the importance of plasmon coupling to energy levels that facilitate charge transfer pathways. We also show the ability to “activate” high versus low electron affinity single nanoparticles with the choice of pump excitation wavelength. The findings show the complex interplay between molecular electron affinity, orbital overlap with the density of states of the plasmonic metal, and excitation energetics of the pump laser wavelength. Potential applications of this work include enhanced control over molecular scale catalysis, biosensor design, and solar energy capture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22142-22153
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 14 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Energy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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