Light and Single-molecule Coupling in Plasmonic Nanogaps
Plasmonic cavities confine optical fields at metal-dielectric interfaces via collective charge oscillations of free electrons within metals termed surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs). SPPs are confined in nanometre gaps formed between two metallic surfaces which creates an optical resonance. This optical resonance of the system is controlled by the geometry and the material of the nanogap. The focus of this work is to understand and utilize these confined optical modes to probe and manipulate the
... and manipulate the dynamics of single-molecules at room temperature. In this thesis, nanogap cavities are constructed by placing nanoparticles on top of a metal-film separated by molecular spacers. Such nanogaps act as cavities with confined optical fields in the gap. Precise position and orientation of single-molecules in the gap is obtained by supramolecular guest-host assembly and DNA origami breadboards. The interaction of light and single-molecules is studied in two different regimes of interaction strength. In the perturbative regime molecular light emission from electronic and vibrational states is strongly enhanced and therefore is used for the detection of single-molecules. In this regime the energy states remain unaltered, however profound effects emerge when the gap size is reduced to <1 nm. New hybridized energy states which are half-light and half-matter are then formed. Dispersion of these energies is studied by tuning the cavity resonance across the molecular resonance, revealing the anti-crossing signature of a strongly coupled system. This dressing of molecules with light results in the modification of photochemistry and photophysics of single-molecules, opening up the exploration of complex natural processes such as photosynthesis and the possibility to manipulate chemical bonds.