Photovoltaic cells as a highly efficient system for biomedical and electrochemical surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy analysis†
Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) has been intensively used recently as a highly sensitive, non-destructive, chemical specific, and label-free technique for a variety of studies. Here, we present a novel SERS substrate for: (i) the standard ultra-trace analysis, (ii) detection of whole microorganisms, and (iii) spectroelectrochemical measurements. The integration of electrochemistry and SERS spectroscopy is a powerful approach for in situ investigation of the structural changes of adsorbed molecules, their redox properties, and for studying the intermediates of the reactions. We have developed a conductive SERS platform based on photovoltaic materials (PV) covered with a thin layer of silver, especially useful in electrochemical SERS analysis. These substrates named Ag/PV presented in this study combine crucial spectroscopic features such as high sensitivity, reproducibility, specificity, and chemical/physical stability. The designed substrates permit the label-free identification and differentiation of cancer cells (renal carcinoma) and pathogens (Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis). In addition, the developed SERS platform was adopted as the working electrode in an electrochemical SERS approach for p-aminothiophenol (p-ATP) studies. The capability to monitor in real-time the electrochemical changes spectro-electro-chemically has great potential for broadening the application of SERS.