Reliable plasmonic substrates for bioanalytical SERS applications easily prepared by convective assembly of gold nanocolloids.

Research paper by Cosmin C Farcau, Monica M Potara, Cosmin C Leordean, Sanda S Boca, Simion S Astilean

Indexed on: 23 Nov '12Published on: 23 Nov '12Published in: Analyst


The ability to easily prepare Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) substrates by the assembly of chemically synthesized gold nanocolloids is of great interest for the advancement of SERS-based optical detection and identification of molecular species of biological or chemical interest, pollutants or warfare agents. In this work we employ three very simple strategies, which can be implemented in any laboratory without the need for specialized equipment, to prepare assemblies of citrate-stabilized spherical gold colloids: (i) drop-coating, which induces the assembly of colloids in so-called coffee rings; (ii) a simplified variant of convective self-assembly (CSA), based on water evaporation in a constrained geometry, which yields highly uniform strips of nanoparticles (NP); (iii) assembly onto chemically functionalized glass surfaces which yields randomly assembled colloids and colloidal clusters. The SERS properties of the resulting colloidal assemblies are comparatively evaluated under multiple excitation lines with p-aminothiophenol (pATP) as a model Raman scatterer. The NP strips obtained by CSA prove to be SERS-active both in the visible and NIR and possess a highly uniform SERS response as demonstrated by spectra at individually selected sites and by confocal SERS mapping. Further it is shown that these NP strips are effective for the detection of cytosine, a DNA component, and for multi-analyte SERS detection. These results, showing how an efficient SERS substrate can be obtained by a very simple assembly method from easy-to-synthesize colloidal gold NP, can have an impact on the development of analytical SERS applications.