Hierarchically assembled NiCo@SiO2@Ag magnetic core–shell microspheres as highly efficient and recyclable 3D SERS substrates†
The hierarchically nanosheet-assembled NiCo@SiO2@Ag (NSA) core–shell microspheres have been synthesized by a layer-by-layer procedure at ambient temperature. The mean particle size of NSA microspheres is about 1.7 μm, which is made up of some nanosheets with an average thickness of ∼20 nm. The outer silver shell surface structures can be controlled well by adjusting the concentration of Ag+ ions and the reaction times. The obtained NSA 3D micro/nanostructures show a structure enhanced SERS performance, which can be attributed to the special nanoscale configuration with wedge-shaped surface architecture. We find that NSA microspheres with nanosheet-assembled shell structure exhibit the highest enhancement efficiency and high SERS sensitivity to p-ATP and MBA molecules. We show that the detection limits for both p-ATP and MBA of the optimized NSA microsphere substrates can approach 10−7 M. And the relative standard deviation of the Raman peak maximum is ∼13%, which indicates good uniformity of the substrate. In addition, the magnetic NSA microspheres with high saturation magnetization show a quick magnetic response, good recoverability and recyclability. Therefore, such NSA microspheres may have great practical potential applications in rapid and reproducible trace detection of chemical, biological and environment pollutants with a simple portable Raman instrument.