Highly porous gold supraparticles as surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrates for sensitive detection of environmental contaminants

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Royal Society of Chemistry

Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) has great potential as an analytical technique for environmental analyses. In this study, we fabricated highly porous gold (Au) supraparticles (i.e., ∼100 μm diameter agglomerates of primary nano-sized particles) and evaluated their applicability as SERS substrates for the sensitive detection of environmental contaminants. Facile supraparticle fabrication was achieved by evaporating a droplet containing an Au and polystyrene (PS) nanoparticle mixture on a superamphiphobic nanofilament substrate. Porous Au supraparticles were obtained through the removal of the PS phase by calcination at 500 °C. The porosity of the Au supraparticles was readily adjusted by varying the volumetric ratios of Au and PS nanoparticles. Six environmental contaminants (malachite green isothiocyanate, rhodamine B, benzenethiol, atrazine, adenine, and gene segment) were successfully adsorbed to the porous Au supraparticles, and their distinct SERS spectra were obtained. The observed linear dependence of the characteristic Raman peak intensity for each environmental contaminant on its aqueous concentration reveals the quantitative SERS detection capability by porous Au supraparticles. The limit of detection (LOD) for the six environmental contaminants ranged from ∼10 nM to ∼10 μM, which depends on analyte affinity to the porous Au supraparticles and analyte intrinsic Raman cross-sections. The porous Au supraparticles enabled multiplex SERS detection and maintained comparable SERS detection sensitivity in wastewater influent. Overall, we envision that the Au supraparticles can potentially serve as practical and sensitive SERS devices for environmental analysis applications.

Nanotechnology, Bioengineering