Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) for biomedical research and instrumentation

Document Type

News Article


Raman spectroscopy is an analytical technique known to provide molecular fingerprints and has been used for biochemical detection. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a sensitive form of Raman spectroscopy wherein the sample under study is kept in close vicinity of the metal substrate (gold or silver) and possibly achieves the limits of single molecule detection.

The application of SERS extends to biochemistry, analytical chemistry, forensic science and trace analysis of drugs and medicines. The high specificity combined with increased sensitivity to an aqueous environment has brought growing significance to the SERS studies of biological systems.

However, the substrate's size, shape, arrangement, and dielectric nature significantly affect signal enhancement in SERS. The metal nanoparticles are good candidates for SERS measurements as their optical, chemical and physical properties can be tuned to match the Raman excitation requirements. Even though a lone nanoparticle can facilitate Raman signal enhancement, the junction between two or more nanoparticles, known as a 'hot-spot', generates very high electric fields leading to considerable enhancement in SERS signals for an analyte kept between them. Since an assembly of nanoparticles causes multiple hot-spot generations, the detection sensitivity will increase tremendously.

The research carried out in our laboratory uses plasmonically achieved dynamic assembly of mental nanostructures for SERS measurements. We employ this plasmonic assembly-based SERS for live cell membrane analysis, detection of cell membrane disorders, live cell imaging and cancer screening by human breath analysis.

  1. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.analchem.0c05204
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0927775721002260
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1386142519311163
  4. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0103493

Publication Date

Spring 10-1-2022