Plasmonic colorimetric and SERS sensors for environmental analysis
The potential for water pollution outbreaks requires the development of rapid, yet simple detection methods for water quality monitoring. Plasmonic nanostructures such as gold (AuNPs) and silver (AgNPs) nanoparticles are compelling candidates for the development of highly sensitive biosensors due to their unique localized surface plasmon resonances (LSPRs). The LSPR of AuNPs and AgNPs lies in the visible and infrared light range and is sensitive to the composition, size, shape, surrounding medium, and aggregation state of these NPs. This plasmonic behavior provides the basis for fabrication of colorimetric sensors for environmental analyses. Furthermore, the LSPR also enhances the electromagnetic field near the NP surface, which provides the basis for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) based detection. Organic or inorganic pollutants and pathogens can be detected and differentiated based upon the finger-print spectra that arise when they enter SERS-active hot spots. In this tutorial review, we summarize progress made towards environmental analysis based on LSPR-based colorimetric and SERS detection. The problems and challenges that have hindered the development of LSPR-based nanosensors for real-world environmental pollutant monitoring are extensively discussed.