• phonon confinement;
  • nanostructured materials;
  • nanoparticles;
  • vibrational spectroscopy


If the medium surrounding a nano-grain does not support the vibrational wavenumbers of a material, the optical and acoustic phonons get confined within the grain of the nanostructured material. This leads to interesting changes in the vibrational spectrum of the nanostructured material as compared to that of the bulk. Absence of periodicity beyond the particle dimension relaxes the zone-centre optical phonon selection rule, causing the Raman spectrum to have contributions also from phonons away from the Brillouin-zone centre. Theoretical models and calculations suggest that the confinement results in asymmetric broadening and shift of the optical phonon Raman line, the magnitude of which depends on the widths of the corresponding phonon dispersion curves. This has been confirmed for zinc oxide nanoparticles. Microscopic lattice dynamical calculations of the phonon amplitude and Raman spectra using the bond-polarizability model suggest a power-law dependence of the peak-shift on the particle size. This article reviews recent results on the Raman spectroscopic investigations of optical phonon confinement in several nanocrystalline semiconductor and ceramic/dielectric materials, including those in selenium, cadmium sulphide, zinc oxide, thorium oxide, and nano-diamond. Resonance Raman scattering from confined optical phonons is also discussed. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.