Optimum fabrication parameters for preparing high performance SERS substrates based on Si pyramid structure and silver nanoparticles
In this work, we propose simple and inexpensive methods to prepare micro/nano hierarchical Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) substrates, in which pyramid structure is created by using anisotropic wet etching of a silicon wafer and a silver thin film is deposited on these pyramid arrays by thermal evaporation. The ensemble is then annealed at 450 °C for 2 hours to form silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). The sizes and density of the pyramids and AgNPs are optimized mainly by changing the etching temperature (60–80 °C), the thickness of the Ag-film (15–45 nm) and etching time (3–10 min). The ultraviolet visible (UV-Vis) absorbance spectra show that the AgNPs formed with the 30 nm-thick film exhibit the strongest plasmonic effect. Under these conditions, the spherical AgNPs with sizes of 42–48 nm are densely distributed on the silicon micro-pyramid array. The obtained SERS signal is the strongest at the pyramid base-edge size of 7–10 μm. The enhancement factor obtained from the abamectin probe molecules is as high as 1 × 106 and the SERS substrates enable the detection of abamectin concentrations as low as 5.7 × 10−9 M. Therefore, this work provides a novel SERS substrate structure that has a high potential for use in medicine and biotechnology or as a food security sensor.