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Sensors 2016, 16(10), 1742; doi:10.3390/s16101742

Chemically Roughened Solid Silver: A Simple, Robust and Broadband SERS Substrate

1
Biomedical Engineering Theme, Institute for Environment, Health and Societies, Brunel University London, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK
2
Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences, Brunel University London, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK
3
Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences, Brunel University London, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Sebastian Wachsmann-Hogiu and Zachary J. Smith
Received: 7 September 2016 / Revised: 9 October 2016 / Accepted: 14 October 2016 / Published: 19 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Raman Spectroscopy in Biosensors)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [4921 KB, uploaded 19 October 2016]   |  

Abstract

Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrates manufactured using complex nano-patterning techniques have become the norm. However, their cost of manufacture makes them unaffordable to incorporate into most biosensors. The technique shown in this paper is low-cost, reliable and highly sensitive. Chemical etching of solid Ag metal was used to produce simple, yet robust SERS substrates with broadband characteristics. Etching with ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH) and nitric acid (HNO3) helped obtain roughened Ag SERS substrates. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and interferometry were used to visualize and quantify surface roughness. Flattened Ag wires had inherent, but non-uniform roughness having peaks and valleys in the microscale. NH4OH treatment removed dirt and smoothened the surface, while HNO3 treatment produced a flake-like morphology with visibly more surface roughness features on Ag metal. SERS efficacy was tested using 4-methylbenzenethiol (MBT). The best SERS enhancement for 1 mM MBT was observed for Ag metal etched for 30 s in NH4OH followed by 10 s in HNO3. Further, MBT could be quantified with detection limits of 1 pM and 100 µM, respectively, using 514 nm and 1064 nm Raman spectrometers. Thus, a rapid and less energy intensive method for producing solid Ag SERS substrate and its efficacy in analyte sensing was demonstrated. View Full-Text
Keywords: SERS substrate; chemical etching; solid silver; surface roughness; 514 nm and 1064 nm Raman SERS substrate; chemical etching; solid silver; surface roughness; 514 nm and 1064 nm Raman
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Wijesuriya, S.; Burugapalli, K.; Mackay, R.; Ajaezi, G.C.; Balachandran, W. Chemically Roughened Solid Silver: A Simple, Robust and Broadband SERS Substrate. Sensors 2016, 16, 1742.

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