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The theory of surface-enhanced Raman scattering

NCJ Number
John R. Lombardi ; Ronald L. Birke
Date Published

This article reports on the derivation of an expression for the observed Raman spectrum in surface-enhanced Raman scattering by considering the molecule and metal to form a conjoined system.



The metal levels are considered to consist of a continuum with levels filled up to the Fermi level, and empty above, while the molecule has discrete levels filled up to the highest occupied orbital, and empty above that. It is presumed that the Fermi level of the metal lies between the highest filled and the lowest unfilled level of the molecule. The molecule levels are then coupled to the metal continuum both in the filled and unfilled levels, and using the solutions to this problem provided by Fano, the authors derive an expression for the transition amplitude between the ground stationary state and some excited stationary state of the molecule-metal system. It is shown that three resonances contribute to the overall enhancement; namely, the surface plasmon resonance, the molecular resonances, as well as charge-transfer resonances between the molecule and metal. Furthermore, these resonances are linked by terms in the numerator, which result in SERS selection rules. These linked resonances cannot be separated, accounting for many of the observed SERS phenomena. The molecule-metal coupling is interpreted in terms of a deformation potential which is compared to the Herzberg-Teller vibronic coupling constant. The authors show that one term in the sum involves coupling between the surface plasmon transition dipole and the molecular transition dipole. They are coupled through the deformation potential connecting to charge-transfer states. Another term is shown to involve coupling between the charge-transfer transition and the molecular transition dipoles. These are coupled by the deformation potential connecting to plasmon resonance states. By applying the selection rules to the cases of dimer and trimer nanoparticles the authors show that the SERS spectrum can vary considerably with excitation wavelength, depending on which plasmon and/or charge-transfer resonance is excited. 56 references (publisher abstract modified)