Recording the Raman Spectrum of a Single Molecule
July 23, 2021
Analytical chemists are continually striving to advance techniques to make it possible to observe and measure matter and processes at smaller and smaller scales. Professor Vartkess Ara Apkarian and his team at the University of California, Irvine have made a significant breakthrough in this quest: They have recorded the Raman spectrum of a single azobenzene thiol molecule. The approach, which breaks common tenets about surface-enhanced Raman scattering/spectroscopy (SERS) and tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS), involved imaging an isolated azobenzene thiol molecule on an atomically flat gold surface, then picking it up and recording its Raman spectrum using an electrochemically etched silver tip, in an ultrahigh vacuum cryogenic scanning tunneling microscope. For the resulting paper detailing the effort , Apkarian and his associates are the 2021 recipients of the William F. Meggers Award, given annually by the Society for Applied Spectroscopy to the authors of the outstanding paper appearing in the journal Applied Spectroscopy. We spoke to Apkarian about this research, and what being awarded this honor means to him and his team. This interview is part of an ongoing series with the winners of awards that are presented at the annual SciX conference. The award will be presented to Apkarian at this fall’s event, which will be held in person in Providence, Rhode Island, September 28–October 1.