An Acoustic Analogy: Tuning Forks and Surface Plasmon Resonance of Metallic Nanostructures

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We report a simple, yet powerful analogy that relates tangible observations from tuning forks (acoustic behavior) to localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) in metallic nanoparticles (optical behavior). The analogy was designed based on Gentner's framework for analogy and exploits the relations between the macro objects and nanoparticle solutions. Tuning forks are used to develop the basic relationships between size, identity, and the resonance frequency of sound. These concepts are then applied to surface plasmon resonance through the use of UV-Visible spectroscopy on samples of gold nanorods, and gold and silver spherical nanoparticles. By utilizing the powerful and familiar sense of sound to help draw links between the two domains, an abstract nanochemical concept is explored by students in the context of a more accessible frame of reference. This analogy has been used with upper-level undergraduates in the form of an activity, but it may also be modified for general chemistry audiences or used by the instructor as a resource to illustrate these concepts in lecture settings.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2011

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  • The Journal of Nano Education (JNE) is a peer-reviewed international journal that aims to provide the most complete and reliable source of information on current developments in nanoscale science, technology, engineering, and medical education.
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