Boosting the Signal with Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS)

Surface-enhanced Raman scattering allows the detection of very low substance concentrations otherwise not measureable by Raman spectroscopy. Nanostructured substrates can be used to increase the sensitivity via a surface-bound amplification of the Raman signal. Commercially available SERS substrates were characterized using Rhodamine 6G solutions in the nM to μM regime.

Introduction

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 the Cora 5X00 and 7X00 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.

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