PhD candidate Naresh Kumar, affiliated with Utrecht University and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL, United Kingdom), has won the 2016 Rayleigh Early Career Award for his work on “Nanoscale mapping of catalytic activity using tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy” published in the RSC journal Nanoscale. “Early career scientists” are the authors within the first 10 years of their professional career.
The Rayleigh Award is NPL’s most prestigious internal award, given yearly to the author(s) of the most outstanding published paper. The award is highly competitive, and papers are judged on their creativity and novelty, the extent and quality of the scientific investigation, potential impact, and clarity and accessibility.
The award committee was highly impressed by the clarity of the writing and the leading-edge nature of the science described in the paper, which demonstrates, for the first time, how tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) can be used to identify catalytic nanoparticles on a surface and achieve in situ mapping of catalytic activity at the nanoscale. This was accomplished by overcoming a major limitation associated with TERS probes by coating them with an ultrathin layer of Alumina, allowing catalytic reactions to be monitored without chemical interference.