Simple SERS substrates: powerful, portable, and full of potential
Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a powerful spectroscopic technique capable of detecting trace amounts of chemicals and identifying them based on their unique vibrational characteristics. While there are many complex methods for fabricating SERS substrates, there has been a recent shift towards the development of simple, low cost fabrication methods that can be performed in most labs or even in the field. The potential of SERS for widespread use will likely be realized only with development of cheaper, simpler methods. In this Perspective article we briefly review several of the more popular methods for SERS substrate fabrication, discuss the characteristics of simple SERS substrates, and examine several methods for producing simple SERS substrates. We highlight potential applications and future directions for simple SERS substrates, focusing on highly SERS active three-dimensional nanostructures fabricated by inkjet and screen printing and galvanic displacement for portable SERS analysis – an area that we believe has exciting potential for future research and commercialization.