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Plasmonic nanorod absorbers as orientation sensors

By Wei-Shun Chang, Ji Won Ha, Liane S. Slaughter and Stephan Link


Nanoparticles are actively exploited as biological imaging probes. Of particular interest are gold nanoparticles because of their nonblinking and nonbleaching absorption and scattering properties that arise from the excitation of surface plasmons. Nanoparticles with anisotropic shapes furthermore provide information about the probe orientation and its environment. Here we show how the orientation of single gold nanorods (25 × 73 nm) can be determined from both the transverse and longitudinal surface plasmon resonance by using polarization-sensitive photothermal imaging. By measuring the orientation of the same nanorods separately using scanning electron microscopy, we verified the high accuracy of this plasmon-absorption-based technique. However, care had to be taken when exciting the transverse plasmon absorption using a large numerical aperture objective as out-of-plane plasmon oscillations were also excited then. For the size regime studied here, being able to establish the nanorod orientation from the transverse mode is unique to photothermal imaging and almost impossible with conventional dark-field scattering spectroscopy. This is important because the transverse surface plasmon resonance is mostly insensitive to the medium refractive index and nanorod aspect ratio allowing nanorods of any length to be used as orientation sensors without changing the laser frequency

Topics: Physical Sciences
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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