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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

NanoPhotonics Centre visited by 533 high school students

28 September 2022

Why do grapes explode in a microwave oven? How does nanostructured chocolate look like? What do nanoparticles on a mirror and Homer Simpson have in common? As part of Physics at Work 2022 , 36 groups of high school students visited our exhibit about plasmonics and nano-optics. Read more here !

IOP news article about recent Sciences Advances paper

22 August 2022

A news article has been written about the recent Sciences Advances paper ' Optical suppression of energy barriers in single molecule-metal binding ' in the IOP optics and photonics research update. Read the article here !

Article featured in Nature Communications Editors’ Highlights

15 July 2022

The recent article 'Hollow-core optical fibre sensors for operando Raman spectroscopy investigation of Li-ion battery liquid electrolytes' has been selected as a featured article in the Nature Communications Editor's highlights. Congratulations to Ermanno and Tijmen! The Editor's highlights can be seen here: https://www...