Sub-nanometre resolution in single-molecule photoluminescence imaging

Yang B, Chen G, Ghafoor A, Zhang Y, Zhang Y, Zhang Y, Luo Y, Yang J, Sandoghdar V, Aizpurua J, Dong Z, Hou JG (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2020


Book Volume: 14

Pages Range: 693-699

Journal Issue: 11

DOI: 10.1038/s41566-020-0677-y


Ambitions to reach atomic resolution with light have been a major force in shaping nano-optics, whereby a central challenge is achieving highly localized optical fields. A promising approach employs plasmonic nanoantennas, but fluorescence quenching in the vicinity of metallic structures often imposes a strict limit on the attainable spatial resolution, and previous studies have reached only 8 nm resolution in fluorescence mapping. Here, we demonstrate spatially and spectrally resolved photoluminescence imaging of a single phthalocyanine molecule coupled to nanocavity plasmons in a tunnelling junction with a spatial resolution down to ∼8 Å and locally map the molecular exciton energy and linewidth at sub-molecular resolution. This remarkable resolution is achieved through an exquisite nanocavity control, including tip-apex engineering with an atomistic protrusion, quenching management through emitter–metal decoupling and sub-nanometre positioning precision. Our findings provide new routes to optical imaging, spectroscopy and engineering of light–matter interactions at sub-nanometre scales.

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Yang, B., Chen, G., Ghafoor, A., Zhang, Y., Zhang, Y., Zhang, Y.,... Hou, J.G. (2020). Sub-nanometre resolution in single-molecule photoluminescence imaging. Nature Photonics, 14(11), 693-699.


Yang, Ben, et al. "Sub-nanometre resolution in single-molecule photoluminescence imaging." Nature Photonics 14.11 (2020): 693-699.

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