Thursday, June 23, 2016

SERS detection of Biomolecules at Physiological pH via aggregation of Gold Nanorods mediated by Optical Forces and Plasmonic Heating

Barbara Fazio, Cristiano D’Andrea, Antonino Foti, Elena Messina, Alessia Irrera, Maria Grazia Donato, Valentina Villari, Norberto Micali, Onofrio M. Maragò & Pietro G. Gucciardi

Strategies for in-liquid molecular detection via Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) are currently based on chemically-driven aggregation or optical trapping of metal nanoparticles in presence of the target molecules. Such strategies allow the formation of SERS-active clusters that efficiently embed the molecule at the “hot spots” of the nanoparticles and enhance its Raman scattering by orders of magnitude. Here we report on a novel scheme that exploits the radiation pressure to locally push gold nanorods and induce their aggregation in buffered solutions of biomolecules, achieving biomolecular SERS detection at almost neutral pH. The sensor is applied to detect non-resonant amino acids and proteins, namely Phenylalanine (Phe), Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) and Lysozyme (Lys), reaching detection limits in the μg/mL range. Being a chemical free and contactless technique, our methodology is easy to implement, fast to operate, needs small sample volumes and has potential for integration in microfluidic circuits for biomarkers detection.

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