Small numbers of surface-bound molecules are shown to behave as would be expected for optomechanical oscillators placed inside plasmonic nanocavities that support extreme confinement of optical fields. Pulsed Raman scattering reveals superlinear Stokes emission above a threshold, arising from the stimulated vibrational pumping of molecular bonds under pulsed excitation shorter than the phonon decay time, and agreeing with pulsed optomechanical quantum theory. Reaching the parametric instability (equivalent to a phonon laser or "phaser" regime) is, however, hindered by the motion of gold atoms and molecular reconfiguration at phonon occupations approaching unity. We show how this irreversible bond breaking can ultimately limit the exploitation of molecules as quantum-mechanical oscillators, but accesses optically driven chemistry.
|Number of pages||17|
|Journal||Physical Review X|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|