Multifunctional Fe3O4@TiO2@Au magnetic microspheres as recyclable substrates for surface-enhanced Raman scattering
Herein, we demonstrate the design and fabrication of multifunctional triplex Fe3O4@TiO2@Au core–shell magnetic microspheres (MSs), which show excellent surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) activity with high reproducibility and stability. In addition, due to their excellent catalytic properties, the as-prepared Fe3O4@TiO2@Au magnetic MSs can clean themselves by photocatalytic degradation of target molecules adsorbed onto the substrate under irradiation with visible light, and can be re-used for several cycles with convenient magnetic separability. The influence of the size and distribution of Au nanoparticles (NPs) on the Fe3O4@TiO2 beads is investigated. The optimized samples employing Au NPs of 15 nm size and an areal density of about 2120 Au NPs on every MS show the best SERS activity and recyclable performance. The experimental results show that these magnetic MSs indicate a new route in eliminating the ‘single-use’ problem of traditional SERS substrates and exhibit their applicability as analytical tools for the detection of different molecular species.