Measuring Local Electric Fields and Local Charge Densities at Electrode Surfaces Using Graphene-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (GERS)-Based Stark-Shifts

Haotian Shi, Bofan Zhao, Jie Ma, Mark J. Bronson, Zhi Cai, Jihan Chen, Yu Wang, Maximum Cronin, Lasse Jensen, Stephen B. Cronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We report spectroscopic measurements of the local electric fields and local charge densities at electrode surfaces using graphene-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (GERS) based on the Stark-shifts of surface-bound molecules and the G band frequency shift in graphene. Here, monolayer graphene is used as the working electrode in a three-terminal potentiostat while Raman spectra are collected in situ under applied electrochemical potentials using a water immersion lens. First, a thin layer (1 Å) of copper(II) phthalocyanine (CuPc) molecules are deposited on monolayer graphene by thermal evaporation. GERS spectra are then taken in an aqueous solution as a function of the applied electrochemical potential. The shifts in vibrational frequencies of the graphene G band and CuPc are obtained simultaneously and correlated. The upshifts in the G band Raman mode are used to determine the free carrier density in the graphene sheet under these applied potentials. Of the three dominant peaks in the Raman spectra of CuPc (i.e., 1531, 1450, and 1340 cm-1), only the 1531 cm-1 peak exhibits Stark-shifts and can, thus, be used to report the local electric field strength at the electrode surface under electrochemical working conditions. Between applied electrochemical potentials from -0.8 V to 0.8 V vs NHE, the free carrier density in the graphene electrode spans a range from -4 × 1012 cm-2 to 2 × 1012 cm-2. Corresponding Stark-shifts in the CuPc peak around 1531 cm-1 are observed up to 1.0 cm-1 over a range of electric field strengths between -3.78 × 106 and 1.85 × 106 V/cm. Slightly larger Stark-shifts are observed in a 1 M KCl solution, compared to those observed in DI water, as expected based on the higher ion concentration of the electrolyte. Based on our data, we determine the Stark shift tuning rate to be 0.178 cm-1/ (106 V/cm), which is relatively small due to the planar nature of the CuPc molecule, which largely lies perpendicular to the electric field at this electrode surface. Computational simulations using density functional theory (DFT) predict similar Stark shifts and provide a detailed atomistic picture of the electric field-induced perturbations to the surface-bound CuPc molecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36252-36258
Number of pages7
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number39
StatePublished - Oct 2 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science


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