Paper 2021: 2D Vibrational Exciton Nanoimaging of Domain Formation in Self-Assembled Monolayers

2D vibrational exciton nanoimaging of domain formation in self-assembled monolayers

Reviews and Highlights Quantum Science Molecular and Soft-matter Ultrafast Nano-optics and Nanophotonics Mineralogy and Geochemistry

Thomas P. Gray, Jun Nishida, Samuel C. Johnson, and Markus B. Raschke
Nano Lett. 21, 5754 (2021).

Order, disorder, and domains affect many of the functional properties in self-assembled monolayers (SAMs). However, carrier transport, wettability, and chemical reactivity are often associated with collective effects, where conventional imaging techniques have limited sensitivity to the underlying intermolecular coupling. Here we demonstrate vibrational excitons as a molecular ruler of intermolecular wave function delocalization and nanodomain size in SAMs. In the model system of a 4- nitrothiophenol (4-NTP) SAM on gold, we resolve coupling-induced peak shifts of the nitro symmetric stretch mode with full spatio-spectral infrared scattering scanning near-field optical microscopy. From modeling of the underlying 2D Hamiltonian, we infer domain sizes and their distribution ranging from 3 to 12 nm across a field of view on the micrometer scale. This approach of vibrational exciton nanoimaging is generally applicable to study structural phases and domains in SAMs and other molecular interfaces.

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