Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 25 Jan '17Published in: Journal of Physical Chemistry A
Recent developments in nanophotonics have paved the way for achieving significant advances in the realm of single molecule chemical detection, imaging, and dynamics. In particular, surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is a powerful analytical technique that is now routinely used to identify the chemical identity of single molecules. Understanding how nanoscale physical and chemical processes affect single molecule SERS spectra and selection rules is a challenging task, and is still actively debated. Herein, we explore underappreciated chemical phenomena in ultrasensitive SERS. We observe a fluctuating excited electronic state manifold, governed by the conformational dynamics of a molecule (4,4'-dimercaptostilbene, DMS) interacting with a metallic cluster (Ag20). This affects our simulated single molecule SERS spectra; the time trajectories of a molecule interacting with its unique local environment dictates the relative intensities of the observable Raman-active vibrational states. Ab initio molecular dynamics of a model Ag20-DMS system are used to illustrate both concepts in light of recent experimental results.