SERS Background Imaging – a Versatile Tool Towards More Reliable SERS Analytics

02 July 2020, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is a highly selective and sensitive straightforward analytical method, which is however not yet established in routine analysis due to a lack of reliability and reproducibility. Here we utilise the broad SERS continuum background (SERS-BG) accompanying every SERS measurement as a versatile tool towards more reliable SERS analytics. We apply a heterogeneous gold SERS substrate immersed with an adenosine triphosphate solution to show that the integrated SERS-BG distinctly correlates with the intensity of the analyte signals in the SERS spectrum. Based on this relationship we introduce an easy-to-handle, automatable and more reliable SERS measurement procedure starting with fast and high-contrast imaging of the SERS substrate followed by hot spot localisation and recording of highly enhanced SERS spectra at the centre of the diffraction-limited spot. We further demonstrate the applicability of SERS-BG imaging by combining it with other optical modalities and electron microscopy to assess structure-property relationships. Additionally, we perform Monte-Carlo simulations to evaluate the sampling error in SERS experiments highlighting the advantages of our method over conventional SERS experiments.


Surface enhanced raman scattering (SERS)
Hot Spots
Raman spectroscopy
SERS substrate evaluation
Multimodal Imaging
Optical Properties
Laser Scanning Microscopy
Monte Carlo simulations

Supplementary materials

Ebersbach SERS-BG SI


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