Tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy

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Tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy is a specialist approach to surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) in which enhancement of Raman scattering occurs only at the point of a near atomically sharp pin, typically coated with gold.[1]

The maximum resolution achievable using an optical microscope, including Raman microscopes, is limited by the Abbe limit, which is approximately half the wavelength of the incident light. Furthermore, with SERS spectroscopy the signal obtained is the sum of a relatively large number of molecules. TERS overcomes these limitations as the Raman spectrum obtained originates primarily from the molecules within a few tens of nanometers of the tip.


The earliest reports of tip enhanced Raman spectroscopy typically used a Raman microscope coupled with an atomic force microscope. Tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy coupled with a scanning tunneling microscope (STM-TERS) has also become a reliable technique, since it utilizes the gap mode plasmon between the metallic probe and the metallic substrate.[2][3]


Tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy requires a confocal microscope, and a scanning probe microscope. The optical microscope is used to align the laser focal point with the tip coated with a SERS active metal. The three typical experimental configurations are bottom illumination, side illumination, and top illumination, depending on which direction the incident laser propagates towards the sample, with respect to the substrate. In the case of STM-TERS, only side and top illumination configurations can be applied, since the substrate is required to be conductive, therefore typically being non-transparent. In this case the incident laser is usually linearly polarized and aligned parallel to the tip, in order to generate confined surface plasmon at the tip apex. The sample is moved rather than the tip so that the laser remains focused on the tip. The sample can be moved systematically to build up a series of tip enhanced Raman spectra from which a Raman map of the surface can be built allowing for surface heterogeneity to be assessed with up to 1.7 nm resolution.[4][5]


  1. ^ Sonntag, Matthew D.; Pozzi, Eric A.; Jiang, Nan; Hersam, Mark C.; Van Duyne, Richard P. (18 September 2014). "Recent Advances in Tip-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy". The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. 5 (18): 3125–3130. doi:10.1021/jz5015746.
  2. ^ Anderson, Mark S. (2000). "Locally enhanced Raman spectroscopy with an atomic force microscope (AFM-TERS)". Applied Physics Letters. 76 (21): 3130. Bibcode:2000ApPhL..76.3130A. doi:10.1063/1.126546.
  3. ^ Stöckle, Raoul M.; Suh, Yung Doug; Deckert, Volker; Zenobi, Renato (February 2000). "Nanoscale chemical analysis by tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy". Chemical Physics Letters. 318 (1–3): 131–136. Bibcode:2000CPL...318..131S. doi:10.1016/S0009-2614(99)01451-7.
  4. ^ Hayazawa, Norihiko; Inouye, Yasushi; Sekkat, Zouheir; Kawata, Satoshi (September 2000). "Metallized tip amplification of near-field Raman scattering". Optics Communications. 183 (1–4): 333–336. Bibcode:2000OptCo.183..333H. doi:10.1016/S0030-4018(00)00894-4.
  5. ^ Chen, Chi; Hayazawa, Norihiko; Kawata, Satoshi (12 February 2014). "A 1.7 nm resolution chemical analysis of carbon nanotubes by tip-enhanced Raman imaging in the ambient". Nature Communications. 5: 3312. Bibcode:2014NatCo...5E3312C. doi:10.1038/ncomms4312. PMID 24518208.