Plasmons provide excellent sensitivity to detect analyte molecules through their strong interaction with the dielectric environment. Plasmonic sensors based on noble metals are, however, limited by the spectral broadening of these excitations. Here we identify a new mechanism that reveals the presence of individual molecules through the radical changes that they produce in the plasmons of graphene nanoislands. An elementary charge or a weak permanent dipole carried by the molecule are shown to be sufficient to trigger observable modifications in the linear absorption spectra and the nonlinear response of the nanoislands. In particular, a strong second-harmonic signal, forbidden by symmetry in the unexposed graphene nanostructure, emerges due to a redistribution of conduction electrons produced by interaction with the molecule. These results pave the way toward ultrasensitive nonlinear detection of dipolar molecules and molecular radicals that is made possible by the extraordinary optoelectronic properties of graphene.
Renwen Yu, Joel D. Cox, and Javier García de Abajo, "Nonlinear plasmonic sensing with nanographene (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10346, Plasmonics: Design, Materials, Fabrication, Characterization, and Applications XV, 103461Q (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 10, 2017; Published: 19 October 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2273418.5617952818001.
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