Winners 2020 of the DAS Travel Award

XXII. Symposium on Atomic, Cluster and Surface Physics – St. Moritz 2020

Yashashwa Pandey, ETH Zurich

The 2020 Symposium on Atomic, Cluster and Surface Physics (SASP 2020) is one in a biennial series of conferences to promote the growth of scientific knowledge and information exchange among scientists in the field of atomic, molecular, and surface physics. It deals primarily with collisional interactions involving different types of species, such as photons, electrons, nanoparticles, molecules, and surfaces. 

Besides collisional interactions, there was a series of interesting talks about application of surface science: from studying proteins at interfaces, to probing single molecule and metallic clusters using scanning probe microscopy (SPM) techniques. It was very informative for me as I am working in the field of Tip-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS). The talk by Dr. Katrin F. Domke (Max Plank Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany) was particularly interesting as it dealt with application of electrochemical TERS in various fields, particularly in probing gold oxidation reaction. Since my work was very similar, I was able to get many ideas regarding my project. The talk with her during the apéro and coffee breaks was very beneficial. Furthermore, I also enjoyed the talk by Dr. Heike Arnolds (University of Liverpool) about the role of interfacial and surface chemistry in protein aggregation and amyloidosis probed via vibrational spectroscopy. It was very close to my research field and we had a fruitful discussion during the poster session about the use of surface enhanced spectroscopy in probing biological samples.

The program for the SASP 2020 was very well organized with an opening speech by Nobel laureate Prof. Ben Feringa and closing keynote speech by Prof. Frédéric Merkt, respectively. The rest of the program was divided into two parts; the morning and evening sessions with afternoons free for ski breaks. Two evenings of the symposium were dedicated for the poster session which lasted until about 10 p.m.  The conference was held in St. Moritz which is a beautiful ski resort in Switzerland’s Engadin valley. We were blessed with a good weather in the latter half of the week to enjoy the ski slopes. 

I presented my poster titled: “Plasmonically Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy of a Surface-Bound Molecular Electrocatalyst”, and spoke about the use of tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy to probe the attachment of a molecular catalyst to an indium-tin oxide (ITO) surface. I also performed Shell-Isolated Nanoparticle Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SHINERS) to study the changes in the molecular structure of the catalyst before and after activation. This work is important in understanding the mechanism of surface-bound molecular electrocatalysts, as well as optimizing sample preparation. My poster was well received and was very interesting to the scientific community, as our work shows a new analytical technique to probe the distribution and structure of the molecule attached to the surface as a single monolayer. It is an important analytical tool in surface science research, and it holds the potential to probe the structural changes of the molecule of interest in real time. Our next step involves performing operando TERS and SHINERS to study this system in real time.  The high spatial resolution and sensitivity of TERS provides a great opportunity to study systems which were previously inaccessible.

I am very grateful that I received the DAS Young Analytical Scientist Travel Award. It gave me an opportunity to present my work in this prestigious symposium. Furthermore, I had the chance to expand my network and receive useful feedback regarding my work from experts in the field. I also made some good friends, and thoroughly enjoyed my stay in St. Moritz, with its beautiful mountains and weather. Therefore, I would like to thank the DAS board for supporting my participation in SASP 2020 symposium.  

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