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Chemphyschem. 2010 May 17;11(7):1365-73. doi: 10.1002/cphc.200900975.

Studying surface chemistry beyond the diffraction limit: 10 years of TERS.

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  • 1FOM Institute AMOLF, Biosurface Spectroscopy, Science Park 104, 1098 XG Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The use of an illuminated scanning probe tip to greatly enhance Raman scattering from the sample underneath the tip is one of the most intriguing developments in optical spectroscopy, and the steeply increasing number of publications per year shows that chemists, physicists and biologists alike recognize the importance and great potential of this technique. With tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS), one of the main goals in surface science has been achieved, namely the combination of scanning probe microscopy and optical spectroscopy such as Raman spectroscopy. Important here is the use of the tip as an optical antenna to substantially increase the emitted radiation and to simultaneously improve the optical resolution much beyond the Abbe diffraction limit. This permits the correlation of topographic and chemical information of the same surface region. The synergy of detailed insight in morphology and the chemical nature of the target species facilitates data interpretation significantly and enables characterization of interfaces at the nanometer scale. A wide variety of substrates and sample molecules have been studied with TERS since the first publication of tip-enhanced Raman spectra, and the technique has reached a first level of maturity on its 10th birthday, with TERS applications extending into various research fields from surface chemistry over biology to nanoscale physics.

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