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  • Received: May. 21, 2020

    Accepted: Jul. 26, 2020

    Posted: Jul. 27, 2020

    Published Online: Sep. 15, 2020

    The Author Email: Zhi-Yuan Li (

    DOI: 10.1364/PRJ.398243

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    Li Long, Jianfeng Chen, Huakang Yu, Zhi-Yuan Li. Strong optical force of a molecule enabled by the plasmonic nanogap hot spot in a tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy system[J]. Photonics Research, 2020, 8(10): 10001573

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Photonics Research, Vol. 8, Issue 10, 10001573 (2020)

Strong optical force of a molecule enabled by the plasmonic nanogap hot spot in a tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy system

Li Long, Jianfeng Chen, Huakang Yu, and Zhi-Yuan Li*

Author Affiliations

  • School of Physics and Optoelectronics, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510641, China


Tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) offers a powerful means to enhance the Raman scattering signal of a molecule as the localized surface plasmonic resonance will induce a significant local electric field enhancement in the nanoscale hot spot located within the nanogap of the TERS system. In this work, we theoretically show that this nanoscale hot spot can also serve as powerful optical tweezers to tightly trap a molecule. We calculate and analyze the local electric field and field gradient distribution of this nanogap plasmon hot spot. Due to the highly localized electric field, a three-dimensional optical trap can form at the hot spot. Moreover, the optical energy density and optical force acting on a molecule can be greatly enhanced to a level far exceeding the conventional single laser beam optical tweezers. Calculations show that for a single H2TBPP organic molecule, which is modeled as a spherical molecule with a radius of rm=1 nm, a dielectric coefficient ε=3, and a polarizability α=4.5×10-38 C·m2/V, the stiffness of the hot-spot trap can reach a high value of about 2 pN/[(W/cm2)·m] and 40 pN/[(W/cm2)·m] in the direction perpendicular and parallel to the TERS tip axis, which is far larger than the stiffness of single-beam tweezers, 0.4 pN/[(W/cm2)·m]. This hard-stiffness will enable the molecules to be stably captured in the plasmon hot spot. Our results indicate that TERS can become a promising tool of optical tweezers for trapping a microscopic object like molecules while implementing Raman spectroscopic imaging and analysis at the same time.

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