Spectral identification in the attogram regime through laser-induced emission of single optically-trapped nanoparticles in air

P. Purohit, F.J. Fortes, J.J. Laserna, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2017, 56, 14178 – 14182


Current trends in nanoengineering are bringing along new structures of diverse chemical compositions that need to be meticulously defined in order to ensure their correct operation. Few methods can provide the sensitivity required to carry out measurements on individual nano-objects without tedious sample pre-treatment or data analysis. In the present study, we introduce a pathway for the elemental identification of single nanoparticles (NPs) that avoids suspension in liquid media by means of optical trapping and laser-induced plasma spectroscopy. We demonstrate spectroscopic detection and identification of individual 25(±3.7) to 70(±10.5) nm in diameter Cu NPs stably trapped in air featuring masses down to 73±35 attograms. We found an increase in the absolute number of photons produced as size of the particles decreased; pointing towards a more efficient excitation of ensembles of only ca. 7×105 Cu atoms in the onset plasma.

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