Boosting the Signal with Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS)
SERS pushes the lower detection limit of Raman spectroscopy. Here, commercially available, nanostructured SERS substrates were characterized with Rhodamine 6G solutions in the nM to µM regime. They increase the sensitivity by several orders of magnitude.
Raman spectroscopy is a useful analytical technique for the identification of organic, inorganic, and biological substances but has a rather weak sensitivity compared to other detection methods such as ion mobility spectrometry or mass spectrometry. Often it is not possible to obtain a useful spectrum in highly diluted samples which are used in a number of applications, for example in biochemistry, catalysis or electrochemistry.
This lack of sensitivity can be overcome by surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates compatible with Anton Paar’s Cora 5001 Raman spectrometer series. Using this technique, it is possible to identify and to obtain structural information from samples which otherwise would not generate a sufficiently strong signal.
A successful SERS measurement requires that the target molecules are in close contact with the enhancing surface. The substrates are prone to degradation over time and might be damaged by the intense excitation laser, resulting in a decrease in signal. Most substrates are single-use consumables and cannot be re-used.
Also, substrates might show different enhancement at different locations of the surface due to heterogeneities of the SERS nanostructures.
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