Nanosoft Laboratory

The research activity is maily devoted to nano-science and nano-technology.

Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy
Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a tool for highly sensitive detection of molecular compound and biomolecules with sensitivity that can reach to the single molecule level. Signal amplifications in the 104 – 109 range can be reached as a result of a combined electromagnetic (plasmon resonance) and chemical (charge transfer) enhancement in metal nanoparticles. Research in the latest years has proceeded towards different applications. Polarization-sensitive SERS allows to gain insight on  the re-radiation properties of molecules near-field coupled to nanoantennas. Nanoparticles functionalized with ad-hoc DNA fragments (aptamers) allow for SERS selective detection of cancer biomarkers in a totally label-free fashion. Engineering the plasmonic properties of linear nanoantennas allows us to selectively excite the resonance in the visible (transverse resonance) to perform SERS and the resonance in the IR (longitudinal resonance) for combined Surface Enhanced Infrared Absorption (SEIRA). SERS active optical fiber sensors can be fabricated using low cost silver colloids.

Tip Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy
Tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) combines the chemical sensitivity of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) with high spatial resolution of scanning probe microscopy (SPM) and enables chemical imaging of surfaces at the nanometre length-scale. TERS exploits a nanometric tip to enhance and confine the optical field, enabling nanoscale chemical imaging of a surface, with few nm resolution. The apparatus @ IPCF is a NanoRamanTM from Horiba Scientific integrating Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) that can provide physical sample information on the nanometer scale, including topography, hardness, adhesion, friction, surface potential, electrical and thermal conductivity, temperature and piezo response, Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), Shear-Force Microscopy (tuning fork techniques).

Optical Tweezers
Since the first observation by A. Ashkin and co-workers in 1986, the single-beam laser trap or ‘Optical Tweezers’ (http://opticaltweezers.org/) has become a commonly used tool in both the physical and life sciences for the manipulation of micron-sized objects and as a force transducer in the sub-piconewton range. In our lab we concentrate our efforts to optically trap, manipulate, and characterize spectroscopically (Raman tweezers) nanoparticles dispersed in liquids such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, polymer nanofibers, silicon nanowires, plasmonic nanostructures (individual metal particles and aggregates).