Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) has demonstrated single-molecule sensitivity and is becoming intensively investigated due to its significant potential in chemical and biomedical applications. SERS sensing is highly dependent on the substrate, where excitation of the localized surface plasmons (LSPs) enhances the Raman scattering signals of proximate analyte molecules. This paper reviews research progress of SERS substrates based on both plasmonic materials and nano-photonic structures. We first discuss basic plasmonic materials, such as metallic nanoparticles and nano-rods prepared by conventional bottom-up chemical synthesis processes. Then, we review rationally-designed plasmonic nano-structures created by top-down approaches or fine-controlled synthesis with high-density hot-spots to provide large SERS enhancement factors (EFs). Finally, we discuss the research progress of hybrid SERS substrates through the integration of plasmonic nano-structures with other nano-photonic devices, such as photonic crystals, bio-enabled nanomaterials, guided-wave systems, micro-fluidics and graphene.
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