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Gold Nanoisland Films as Reproducible SERS Substrates for Highly Sensitive Detection of Fungicides

Khlebtsov, Boris N., Khanadeev, Vitaly A., Panfilova, Elizaveta V., Bratashov, Daniil N., Khlebtsov, Nikolai G.
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2015 v.7 no.12 pp. 6518-6529
apple peels, electromagnetic field, glass, gold, models, nanogold, nanoparticles, silicon, silver, statistical analysis, thiram, transmission electron microscopy, vibration
A wet-chemical approach is used to fabricate centimeter-scale gold nanoisland films (NIFs) with tunable morphology of islands and with strong electromagnetic coupling between them. The approach consists in a uniform seeding of small gold nanoparticles on a glass or silicon substrate, followed by controllable growth of the seeds into small nanoislands. A special technique for TEM sampling was developed to follow the gradual formation of larger-sized isolated nanoparticles, nanoislands of sintered overgrown seeds, and a complete gold layer with nanoscale cracks. The electromagnetic field distribution inside the fabricated NIFs was calculated by FDTD simulations applied to actual TEM images of the fabricated samples rather than to artificial models commonly used. SERS measurements with 1,4-aminothiophenol (ATP) molecules demonstrated the analytical enhancement factor about of 10⁷ and the fundamental enhancement factor about of 10⁸ for optimized substrates. These values were at least 1 order of magnitude higher than that for self-assembled arrays of gold nanostars and silver nanocubes. SERS spectra of independent samples demonstrated good sample-to-sample reproducibility in terms of the relative standard deviation (RSD) of the main peaks less than 20%. Additionally, Raman maps with 1 μm increment in X–Y directions of NIFs (800 spectral spots) demonstrated good point-to-point repeatability in the intensity of the main Raman vibration modes (RSD varied from 5% to 15% for 50 randomly selected points). A real-life application of the fabricated SERS substrates is exemplified by the detection of the thiram fungicide in apple peels within the 5–250 ppb linear detection range. Specifically, the NIF-based SERS technology detected thiram on apple peel down to level of 5 ng/cm².