skip to content

NanoPhotonics Centre

Plasmon Chemistry/Sensing Image

An overview of the group's research into plasmon chemistry and sensing.

Intense plasmonic hotspots associated with carefully designed nanoarchitectures dramatically  enhance sensing capabilities, allowing us to observe individual molecules and follow chemical reactions in real time.

Current Work


Chemical reactions at the nanoscale
Incorporating nanosized reactors allows exact control and selectivity of reactants. Using cucurbituril molecules as both reaction vessels and spacers between gold nanoparticles ensures that the reaction happens exactly in the plasmonic hotspot, allowing for extremely sensitive SERS measurements
Key papers:
Taylor et al.Nano Lett 13, 5985 (2013)


Plasmonic molecular sensing
Using the immense enhancement created by plasmonic structures combined with carefully tailored molecular scaffolding, incredibly sensitive SERS sensors can be formed that allow the observation of diffusion of single molecules through lipid bilayers, and can detect trace amounts of molecules in aqueous environments and body fluids.

Key papers:
Kasera et al., Scientific Reports 4, 6785 (2014)
Taylor et al., Science Reports 4, 5490 (2014)


Tuneable ultrafast SERS
We developed a new broadband spectrally tuneable system for spectrally-resolved SERS. By scanning the excitation wavelength across the whole visible spectrum, we can investigate the near- and far-field optical response of individual plasmonic nanostructures in detail. This study provides new insights into the physical properties of tightly confined nano-gaps. The system can also be exploited for frequency-optimized Raman and SERS measurements on a large variety of samples.

Key papers:
Lombardi et al., ACS Photonics 3, 471 (2016)
Steuwe et al., Nano Lett 11, 5339 (2011)

Previous Work

Self-assembled plasmonic nanogaps
Using a rigid sub-nm wide space molecule known as CB, we are able to create plasmonic aggregates in solution which have very larger and reproducible SERS signals that are extremely useful for sensing. We have patented this technology, and are developing various demonstrators based on it.

Key papers:
Taylor et al., ACS Nano 5, 3878 (2011)


Latest news

Sara Rocchetti - Best poster at Chemical and NanoScience symposium

17 May 2023

Sara Rocchetti won the best poster award at the 10th Chemical and NanoScience symposium Newcastle (CNSN-X) with her work on DNA origami and nanophotonics. Well done!

EPSRC programme grant for Ubiquitous Optical Healthcare Technologies (UbOHT)

5 May 2023

An £8.6M EPSRC programme grant on Ubiquitous Optical Healthcare Technologies (UbOHT) has been awarded to Jeremy Baumberg along with other researchers from Cambridge, York, Strathclyde and Exeter, with the aim to build new types of low-cost biosensor to help with the monitoring, prevention and management of diseases. Read...

Top cited paper in Journal of Raman Spectroscopy

24 February 2023

The paper Eliminating irreproducibility in SERS substrates has been named top cited paper in the Journal of Raman Spectroscopy!!