Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol.143, No.4, 1816-1821, 2021
Probing Bias-Induced Electron Density Shifts in Metal-Molecule Interfaces via Tip-Enhanced Raman Scattering
Surface charging effects at metal-molecule interfaces, for example, charge transfer, charge transport, charge injection, and so on, have a strong impact on the performance of organic electronics. Only having molecules bound or adsorbed on different metals results in a doping-like behavior at the interface by the different work functions of the metals and creates hybrid surface states, which strongly affect the efficiencies. With the ongoing downsizing and thinning of the organic components, the impact of the interface will even further increase. However, most of the investigations only monitor the interface without the additional charging effects from applying a voltage to the interface. In this work we present a spectroscopic approach based on tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) to study metal-molecule interfaces with an applied voltage simulating the electric field strength in real devices. We monitor how an intrinsic inductive effect of partial functional groups in molecules can shift the molecular electron density (ED) distribution when a bias voltage is applied. Therefore, we choose two molecules as model systems, which are similar in size and binding condition to a smooth gold surface, but with different electronic structure. By placing the tip 1 nm over the molecular surface at a fixed position and changing the applied bias voltage, we record electric-field-dependent tip-enhanced Raman spectra. Specific vibrational bands exhibit voltage-dependent intensity changes related to the shift of the local ED inside the molecules. We believe this experiment is valuable to gain deeper insights into charged metal-molecule interfaces.