Sheath flow SERS for chemical profiling in urine
The molecular specificity and sensitivity of surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) makes it an attractive method for biomedical diagnostics. Here we present results demonstrating the utility and complications for SERS characterization in urine. The chemical fingerprint characteristics of Raman spectra suggest its use as a label free diagnostic; however, the complex composition of biological fluids presents a tremendous challenge. In particular, the limited number of surface sites and competing absorption tend to mask the presence of analytes in solution, particularly when the solution contains multiple analytes. To address these problems and characterize biological fluids we have demonstrated a sheath-flow interface for SERS detection. This sheath-flow SERS interface uses hydrodynamic focusing to confine analyte molecules eluting out of a column onto a planar SERS substrate where the molecules are detected by their intrinsic SERS signal. In this report we compare the direct detection of benzoylecgonine in urine using DSERS with chemical profiling by capillary zone electrophoresis and sheath-flow SERS detection. The SERS spectrum from the observed migration peaks can identify benzoylecgonine and other distinct spectra are also observed, suggesting improved chemical diagnostics in urine. With over 2000 reported compounds in urine, identification of each of the detected species is an enormous task. Nonetheless, these samples provide a benchmark to establish the potential clinical utility of sheath-flow SERS detection.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Advanced Vibrational Spectroscopy for Biomedical Applications