Bacterial detection and differentiation via direct volatile organic compound sensing with surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy

Through the direct detection of bacterial volatile organic compounds (VOCs), via surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), we report here a reconfigurable assay for the identification and monitoring of bacteria. We demonstrate differentiation between highly clinically relevant organisms: Escherichia coli, Enterobacter cloacae, and Serratia marcescens. This is the first differentiation of bacteria via SERS of bacterial VOC signatures. The assay also detected as few as 10 CFU/ml of E. coli in under 12 hrs, and detected E. coli from whole human blood and human urine in 16 hrs at clinically relevant concentrations of 103 CFU/ml and 104 CFU/ml, respectively. In addition, the recent emergence of portable Raman spectrometers uniquely allows SERS to bring VOC detection to point-of-care settings for diagnosing bacterial infections.