Klarite as a label-free SERS-based assay: a promising approach for atmospheric bioaerosol detection†
Detecting atmospheric bioaerosols in a quantitative way is highly desirable for public health and safety. This work demonstrates that surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a simple and rapid analytical technique for the detection of atmospheric bioaerosols, on a Klarite substrate. For both simulated and ambient bioaerosols, this detection assay results in an increase in the enhancement factor of the Raman signal. We report a strong SERS signal generated by bioaerosols containing living Escherichia coli deposited on Klarite. Furthermore, we demonstrate that SERS mapping can be used to estimate the percentage of airborne, living Escherichia coli. Moreover, Klarite provides differently distinct SERS spectra at different bacterial growth phases, indicating its potential to identify changes occurring in the bacterial envelope. Finally, we applied SERS for the rapid detection of Escherichia coli in ambient bioaerosols without using time-consuming and laborious culture processes. Our results represent rapid, culture-free and label-free detection of airborne bacteria in the real-world environment.