Ultrafast Surface-Enhanced Raman Probing of the Role of Hot Electrons in Plasmon-Driven Chemistry

Nathaniel C. Brandt, Emily L. Keller, Renee R. Frontiera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Hot electrons generated through plasmonic excitations in metal nanostructures show great promise for efficiently driving chemical reactions with light. However, the lifetime, yield, and mechanism of action of plasmon-generated hot electrons involved in a given photocatalytic process are not well understood. Here, we develop ultrafast surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) as a direct probe of plasmon-molecule interactions in the plasmon-catalyzed dimerization of 4-nitrobenzenethiol to p,p′-dimercaptoazobenzene. Ultrafast SERS probing of these molecular reporters in plasmonic hot spots reveals transient Fano resonances, which we attribute to near-field coupling of Stokes-shifted photons to hot electron-driven metal photoluminescence. Surprisingly, we find that hot spots that yield more photoluminescence are much more likely to drive the reaction, which indirectly proves that plasmon-generated hot electrons induce the photochemistry. These ultrafast SERS results provide insight into the relative reactivity of different plasmonic hot spot environments and quantify the ultrafast lifetime of hot electrons involved in plasmon-driven chemistry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3178-3185
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 18 2016


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