Preparation and evaluation of nanocellulose–gold nanoparticle nanocomposites for SERS applications†
Nanocellulose is of research interest due to its extraordinary optical, thermal, and mechanical properties. The incorporation of guest nanoparticles into nanocellulose substrates enables production of novel nanocomposites with a broad range of applications. In this study, gold nanoparticle/bacterial cellulose (AuNP/BC) nanocomposites were prepared and evaluated for their applicability as surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates. The nanocomposites were prepared by citrate mediated in situ reduction of Au3+ in the presence of a BC hydrogel at 303 K. Both the size and morphology of the AuNPs were functions of the HAuCl4 and citrate concentrations. At high HAuCl4 concentrations, Au nanoplates form within the nanocomposites and are responsible for high SERS enhancements. At lower HAuCl4 concentrations, uniform nanospheres form and the SERS enhancement is dependent on the nanosphere size. The time-resolved increase in the SERS signal was probed as a function of drying time with SERS ‘hot-spots’ primarily forming in the final minutes of nanocomposite drying. The application of the AuNP/BC nanocomposites for detection of the SERS active dyes MGITC and R6G as well as the environmental contaminant atrazine is illustrated as is its use under low and high pH conditions. The results indicate the broad applicability of this nanocomposite for analyte detection.