Ultrasensitive SERS performance in 3D “sunflower-like” nanoarrays decorated with Ag nanoparticles
Low-cost, stabilized and ultrasensitive three-dimensional (3D) hierarchical surface-enhanced Raman scattering substrates (“sunflower-like” nanoarrays decorated with Ag nanoparticles, denoted as SLNAs-Ag) have been obtained by fabricating binary colloidal crystals and then decorating with Ag nanoparticles. In order to provide a larger density of hot spots within the laser-illumination area, the silica sphere arrays were chosen as the island-type platform for the polystyrene (PS) nanosphere deposition, and the distances between the PS nanospheres were tuned by etching for different durations. Compared with conventional 2D planar systems, the as-fabricated 3D SLNAs-Ag exhibited extremely high SERS sensitivity ascribed to the larger SERS active regions. Quantitative detection of molecules with an extremely low incident laser power was achieved on the “sunflower-like” nanoarrays in which the PS nanospheres were etched for 5 minutes and decorated with Ag nanoparticles, and the corresponding analytical enhancement factor is calculated to be 2 × 1014 with the concentration of rhodamine 6G down to 10−15 M. Based on the achieved SERS substrates, we have further demonstrated the highly sensitive detection of molecules such as melamine for food safety inspection.