The fields of plasmonics, Raman spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy have recently undergone considerable development, but independently of one another. By combining these techniques, a range of complementary information could be simultaneously obtained at a single molecule level. Here, we report the design, fabrication and application of a photonic–plasmonic device that is fully compatible with atomic force microscopy and Raman spectroscopy. Our approach relies on the generation and localization of surface plasmon polaritons by means of adiabatic compression through a metallic tapered waveguide to create strongly enhanced Raman excitation in a region just a few nanometres across. The tapered waveguide can also be used as an atomic force microscope tip. Using the device, topographic, chemical and structural information about silicon nanocrystals may be obtained with a spatial resolution of 7 nm.