Gold nanostars as a colloidal substrate for in-solution SERS measurements using a handheld Raman spectrometer†
The evolution of Raman spectroscopy into a useful analytical technique has been due, in part, to the development of inexpensive, compact instrumentation and advancements in methodologies that enhance Raman intensities. Surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is a primary methodology for quantitative and low detection limit measurements. While a broad array of applications using solid SERS substrates have been demonstrated, in-solution SERS measurements are not as widely pursued. This work seeks to optimize the synthesis of gold nanostars (AuNS) as a colloidal SERS substrate for in-solution measurements using handheld instrumentation. The types and concentrations of two buffers typically used for AuNS synthesis are examined to optimize the SERS intensity of a chemisorbed Raman probe. The observed SERS intensity primarily depends on conditions that allow higher surface coverage of the probe. Conditions that result in AuNS aggregates are found to be most optimal for SERS, similar to other nanoparticle shapes. A method to quantitate methimazole, an anti-hormone pharmaceutical, in urine is developed and reported. The primary impact of this work is the demonstration of the combination of water dispersible substrates and handheld instrumentation for rapid and sensitive analytical measurements.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Analytical Nanoscience