We have reported the in situ surface–enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) monitoring of repetitive surface plasmon–mediated chemical transformation cycles in a conjugate nanobiological system. The nanobiological conjugate comprised a gold-coated plasmonic substrate biofunctionalized with thiolated single–stranded DNA carrying a reduction-oxidation indicator methylthioninium chloride, which is also known as methylene blue (MB), in buffer solution at a neutral pH. Exposure to a 523-nm laser excitation produced pronounced SERS bands of oxidized MB. Continued exposure to the laser resulted in disappearance of the SERS bands, which can be interpreted as a reduction of MB. This occurred in the absence of electrochemical stimulation, chemical agents, or catalysts, suggesting a surface plasmon–mediated mechanism of the transformation. The oxidized form of MB was recovered by an addition of fresh buffer solution on the surface of the sample. Continued laser exposure with periodical addition of the buffer resulted in repetitive cycles of changes in the SERS pattern, which were monitored in situ. The chemical transformations of MB were preceded by a buildup of an intermediate SERS pattern, which was attributed to a transient form of MB created by selective surface plasmon-driven excitation.


Physics, Astronomy, and Materials Science

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Methylene blue, Nanobiological conjugates, Nanoplasmonics, Plasmon-driven photochemical reactions, SERS

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