We demonstrate the ability to map photo-induced gradient forces in materials, using a setup akin to atomic force microscopy. This technique allows for the simultaneous characterization of topographical features and optical near-fields in materials, with a high spatio-temporal resolution. We show that the near-field gradient forces can be translated onto electric fields, enabling the mapping of plasmonic hot-spots in gold nanostructures, and the resolution of sub-10 nm features in photocatalytic materials. We further show that the dispersion-sensitive nature of near-field gradient forces can be used to image and distinguish atomically thin layers of 2-D materials, with high contrast.
Recently, co-reduction of Au and Pd has allowed the synthesis of complex Au core/AuPd shell nanoparticles with elongated tips and cubic-like symmetry. Optical studies have shown strong plasmonic behavior and high refractive index sensitivities. In this paper, we describe the composition and the near-field plasmonic behavior of those complex structures. Monochromated STEM-EELS, Cathodoluminescence, and EDS mapping reveals the different resonant modes in these particles, and shows that Pd, a poor plasmonic metal, does not prevent strong resonances and could actually be extremely helpful for plasmon-enhanced catalysis.