Plasmon-Mediated Intramolecular Methyl Migration with Nanoscale Spatial Control

James L. Brooks, Christopher L. Warkentin, Dhabih V. Chulhai, Jason D. Goodpaster, Renee R. Frontiera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Plasmonic materials interact strongly with light to focus and enhance electromagnetic radiation down to nanoscale volumes. Due to this localized confinement, materials that support localized surface plasmon resonances are capable of driving energetically unfavorable chemical reactions. In certain cases, the plasmonic nanostructures are able to preferentially catalyze the formation of specific photoproducts, which offers an opportunity for the development of solar-driven chemical synthesis. Here, using plasmonic environments, we report inducing an intramolecular methyl migration reaction, forming 4-methylpyridine from N-methylpyridinium. Using both experimental and computational methods, we were able to confirm the identity of the N-methylpyridinium by making spectral comparisons against possible photoproducts. This reaction involves breaking a C-N bond and forming a new C-C bond, highlighting the ability of plasmonic materials to drive complex and selective reactions. Additionally, we observe that the product yield depends strongly on optical illumination conditions. This is likely due to steric hindrance in specific regions on the nanostructured plasmonic substrate, providing an optical handle for driving plasmonic catalysis with spatial specificity. This work adds yet another class of reactions accessible by surface plasmon excitation to the ever-growing library of plasmon-mediated chemical reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17194-17202
Number of pages9
JournalACS nano
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 22 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the support from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under AFOSR award no. FA9550-15-1-0022. Portions of this work were conducted in the Minnesota Nano Center, which is supported by the National Science Foundation through the National Nano Coordinated Infrastructure Network (NNCI) under Award Number ECCS-1542202. We would like to thank the Haynes Lab at the University of Minnesota for use of their thermal evaporation deposition chamber for fabricating the AuFON substrates. This research used resources of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility operated under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. Additional computer resources were provided by the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) at the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Chemical Society.


  • methyl migration
  • nanoscale patterning
  • plasmon-driven chemistry
  • plasmonic photocatalysis
  • spatial control
  • surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy


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