The ability to confine light in small volumes, associated to low background signals, is an important technological achievement for a number of disciplines such as biology or electronics. In fact, decoupling the source position from the sample area allows an unprecedented sensitivity which can be exploited in different systems. The most direct implications are however related to either Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) or Tip Enhanced Raman Scattering (TERS). Furthermore, while the combination with super-hydrophobic patterns can overcome the typical diffusion limit of sensors, focused surface plasmons decaying into hot electrons can be exploited to study the electronic properties of the sample by means of a Schottky junction. Within this paper these techniques will be briefly described and the key role played by both surface and localized plasmons will be highlighted. © (2014) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.