Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Markus B. Raschke

Second Advisor

Xiaobo Yin

Third Advisor

Minhyea Lee

Fourth Advisor

Joseph MacLennan

Fifth Advisor

Garry Rumbles


Photon-induced phenomena in molecules and other materials play a significant role in device applications as well as understanding their physical properties. While a range of device applications using organic and inorganic molecules and soft and hard materials have led striking developments in modern technologies, using bulk systems has reached the limit in their functions, performance, and regarding application range. Recently, low-dimensional systems have emerged as appealing resources for the advanced technologies based on their significantly improved functions and properties. Hence, understanding light-matter interactions at their natural length scale is of fundamental significance, in addition to the next generation device applications. This thesis demonstrates a range of new functions and behaviors of low-dimensional materials revealed and controlled by the advanced tip-enhanced near-field spectroscopy and imaging techniques exceeding the current instrumental limits.

To understand the behaviors of zero-dimensional (0D) molecular systems in interacting environments, we explore new regimes in tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) and scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM), revealing the fundamental nature of single-molecule dynamics and nanoscale spatial heterogeneity of biomolecules on the cell membranes. To gain insight into intramolecular properties and dynamic processes of single molecules, we use TERS at cryogenic temperatures. From temperature-dependent line narrowing and splitting, we investigate and quantify ultrafast vibrational dephasing, intramolecular coupling, and conformational heterogeneity. Through correlation analysis of fluctuations of individual modes, we observe rotational motion and spectral fluctuations of single-molecule. We extend single-molecule spectroscopy study into in situ nano-biomolecular imaging of cancer cells by developing in-liquid SNOM. We use a new mechanical resonance control, achieving a high-Q force sensing of the near-field probe. We reveal nanoscale correlations between surface biomolecules and intracellular organelle structures through near-field imaging of the spatial distribution of EGFRs on the membrane of A431 cancer cells. In addition, to understand modified spontaneous emission properties of single quantum dots coupled strongly with localized plasmon, we perform tip-enhanced photoluminescence (TEPL) spectroscopy of the single CdSe/ZnS quantum dots on gold film.

We probe and control nanoscale processes in van der Waals two-dimensional (2D) materials. To understand lattice and electronic structure as well as elastic and phonon scattering properties of grain boundaries (GBs) in large-area graphene, we perform TERS imaging. Through correlated analysis of multispectral TERS images with corresponding topography and near-field scattering image, we reveal bilayer structure of GBs in the form of twisted stacking. In addition, we determine the misorientation angles of the bilayer GBs from a detailed quantitative investigation of the Raman modes. In addition, we present a new hybrid nano-optomechanical tip-enhanced spectroscopy and imaging approach combining TERS, TEPL, and atomic force local strain manipulation to probe the heterogeneous PL responses at nanoscale defects and control the local bandgap in transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) monolayer. We further extend this approach to probe and control the radiative emission of dark excitons and localized excitons. Based on nano-tip enhanced spectroscopy with ∼6 × 105-fold PL enhancement induced by the plasmonic Purcell effect and few-fs radiative dynamics of the optical antenna tip, we can directly probe and actively modulate the dark exciton and localized exciton emissions in time (~ms) and space (<15 >nm) at room temperature.

Lastly, to extend the range of tip-enhanced microscopy applications to nano-crystallography and nonlinear optics, we present a generalizable approach controlling the excitation polarizability for both in-plane and out-of-plane vector fields by breaking the axial symmetry of a conventional Au tip. This vector field control with the tip enables probing of nonlinear optical second harmonic generation (SHG) responses from a range of ferroic materials as well as van der Waals 2D materials. Specifically, we demonstrate SHG nano-crystallography results for MoS2 monolayer film, ferroelectric YMnO3, BaTiO3-BiFeO3 multiferroics, and PbTiO3/SrTiO3 superlattices.

Included in

Optics Commons