Raman Signal Enhancement by Quasi-Fractal Geometries of Gold Nanoparticles

The synthesis of star-like gold nanoparticles (SGNs) in a temperature-controlled environment allows for temperature modulation and facilitates the growth of highly branched nanoparticles. By increasing the synthesis temperature, the level of branching increases as well. These highly branched features represent a distinctly novel, quasi-fractal nanoparticle morphology, referred to herein as gold nano caltrops (GNC). The increased surface roughness, local curvature and degree of inhomogeneity of GNC lend themselves to generating improved enhancement of the scattering signals in surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) via a mechanism in which the localized surface plasmon sites, or “hot spots,” provide the engine for the signal amplification, rather than the more conventional surface plasmon. Here, the synthesis procedure and the surface-enhancing capabilities of GNC are described and discussed in comparison with SGN.