Applied Surface Science, Vol.441, 364-371, 2018
Conductive scanning probe microscopy of the semicontinuous gold film and its SERS enhancement toward two-step photo-induced charge transfer and effect of the supportive layer
The semicontinuous gold film, enabling various electronic applications including development of surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrate, is investigated using conductive atomic force microscopy (CAFM) and Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) to reveal and investigate local electronic characteristics potentially associated with SERS generation of the film material. Although the gold film fully covers the underlying silicon surface, CAFM results reveal that local conductivity of the film is not continuous with insulating nanoislands appearing throughout the surface due to incomplete film percolation. Our analysis also suggests the two-step photo-induced charge transfer (CT) play the dominant role in the enhancement of SERS intensity with strong contribution from free electrons of the silicon support. Silicon-to-gold charge transport is illustrated by KPFM results showing that Fermi level of the gold film is slightly inhomogeneous and far below the silicon conduction band. We propose that inhomogeneity of the film workfunction affecting chemical charge transfer between gold and Raman probe molecule is associated with the SERS intensity varying across the surface. These findings provide deeper understanding of charge transfer mechanism for SERS which can help in design and development of the semicontinuous gold film-based SERS substrate and other electronic applications. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.