A grand challenge in nanoscience is to correlate structure or morphology of individual nano-sized objects with their photo-physical properties. An early example have been measurements of the emission spectra and polarization of single semiconductor quantum dots as well as their crystallographic structure by a combination of confocal fluorescence microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Recently, the simultaneous use of confocal fluorescence and atomic force microscopy (AFM) has allowed for correlating the morphology/conformation of individual nanoparticle oligomers or molecules with their photo-physics.[2, 3] In particular, we have employed the tip of an AFM cantilever to apply compressive stress to single molecules adsorbed on a surface and follow the effect of the impact on the electronic states of the molecule by fluorescence spectroscopy. Quantum mechanical calculations corroborate that the spectral changes induced by the localized force can be associated to transitions among the different possible conformers of the adsorbed molecule.
Thomas Basché, Gerald Hinze, and Sven Stöttinger, "Correlative atomic force and confocal fluorescence microscopy: single molecule imaging and force induced spectral shifts
(Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9925, Nanoimaging and Nanospectroscopy IV, 99250M (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 29, 2016; Published: 3 November 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2235213.5161498099001.
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