A planar plasmonic nano-gap and its array for enhancing light-matter interactions at the nanoscale

L. Zhang, X. Wang, H. Chen, C. Liu and S. Denga

Nanoscale 14, 12257 (2022)
Gap surface plasmon (GSP) modes, the localized electromagnetic modes existing between two metal structures separated by a nano-gap, are able to support subwavelength confinement and enhancement of a light field upon resonance excitation. Such features can greatly facilitate various light-matter interactions at the nanoscale. Here, we demonstrate a planar nano-gap architecture existing between a pair of tip-shaped gold pads. The nano-gap gives rise to plasmon resonances with strong light confinement close to the tip surfaces in the visible to near-infrared spectral region. Accordingly, we showed that the plasmonic gold nano-gap can exhibit strong intrinsic second-harmonic generation (SHG) and significantly enhance the Raman scattering signal from small molecules. Furthermore, by arranging the nano-gap into arrays, a stronger SHG signal can be obtained. In addition, the surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) activity is also improved by two orders of magnitude compared to that of a single nano-gap. Overall, the findings in our study have demonstrated the potential applications of a plasmonic nano-gap and its arrays for signal generation and sensitive chemical sensing at the nanoscale.