We report spectroscopic measurements of the local electric field using vibrational Stark shifts of napthyl nitrile-functionalized silicon under electrochemical working conditions. The CN bond is particularly sensitive to applied electric fields and serves as a good probe for the local electric fields at the silicon-aqueous interface. Here, surface-enhanced Raman spectra (SERS) are collected at a silicon surface using a water immersion lens as a function of the reference potential in a three-terminal potentiostat. In deionized (DI) water and KCl solutions, the nitrile (i.e., CN) stretch downshifts by 4.7 and 8.6 cm-1, respectively, under an applied potential of-1 V vs Ag/AgCl. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations of the napthyl nitrile complex carried out under various electric fields establish the Stark tuning rate to be 0.5622 cm-1/(MV cm-1). Based on this relation, electric fields of-8.4 and-15.2 MV/cm were obtained under negative applied potentials. These measurements report the electric field strength within the double (i.e., Helmholtz) layer, which is responsible for pulling positively charged ions (e.g., H+) toward the surface in reduction reaction processes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films