A full quantum mechanical approach assessing the chemical and electromagnetic effect in TERS
in: ACS Nano (2023)
Tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) is a valuable method for surface analysis with nanometer to angstrom-scale resolution, however, the accurate simulation of particular TERS signals remains a computational challenge. We present a unique approach to this challenge by combining the two main contributors to plasmon-enhanced Raman spectroscopy and to the high resolution in TERS in particular, the electromagnetic and the chemical effect, into one quantum mechanical simulation. The electromagnetic effect describes the sample's interaction with the strong, highly localized and inhomogeneous electric fields associated with the plasmonic tip, and is typically the thematic focus for most mechanistic studies. On the other hand, the chemical effect covers the different responses to the extremely close-range and highly position-sensitive chemical interaction between the apex tip atom(s) and the sample, and, as we could show in previous works, plays an often underestimated role. Starting from a (time-dependent) density functional theory description of the chemical model system, comprised of a tin(II) phthalocyanine (SnPc) sample molecule and a single silver atom as tip, we introduce the electromagnetic effect through a series of point charges that recreate the electric field in the vicinity of the plasmonic Ag nanoparticle. By scanning the tip over the molecule along a 3D grid, we can investigate the system's Raman response on each position for non-resonant and resonant illumination. Simulating both effects on their own already hints at the achievable signal enhancement and resolution, but the combination of both creates even stronger evidence that TERS is capable of resolving sub-molecular features.