Observation of Single Molecule Plasmon-Driven Electron Transfer in Isotopically Edited 4,4′-Bipyridine Gold Nanosphere Oligomers

Emily A. Sprague-Klein, Michael O. McAnally, Dmitry V. Zhdanov, Alyssa B. Zrimsek, Vartkess A. Apkarian, Tamar Seideman, George C. Schatz, Richard P. Van Duyne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


We clarify mechanistic questions regarding plasmon-driven chemistry and nanoscale photocatalysis within optically confined near-field plasmonic systems. Using surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), we directly monitor the photoinduced reaction dynamics of 4,4′-bipyridine molecules, localized in plasmonic hot spots within individual gold nanosphere oligomers. Our experiment generates surface electrons from the gold nanoparticle using an intense off-molecular resonance continuous wave pump field, and detects radical anion products via SERS. This is done by adopting a dual-wavelength spectroscopic approach. Empirical evidence of plasmon-driven electron transfer is provided for the first time by direct detection of the 4,4′-bipyridine radical anion species localized in the plasmonic hot spots of individual gold nanosphere oligomers, corroborated by open-shell density functional theory calculations. An isotopologue approach using both protonated and deuterated 4,4′-bipyridine molecules demonstrates the single molecule response of plasmon-driven electron transfer occurring in single nanosphere oligomer systems with a 3% yield, a phenomenon unobserved in ensemble measurements under analogous experimental conditions. This mechanism has broad applicability to using nanoscale chemical reactors for surface redox reactions on the subnanometer scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15212-15221
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 25 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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