Fabrication of flexible, cost-effective, and scalable silver substrates for efficient surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy based trace detection

Khan G. A. , Demirtas O. O. , Demir A. K. , AYTEKİN Ö., BEK A. , Bhatti A. S. , ...More

COLLOIDS AND SURFACES A-PHYSICOCHEMICAL AND ENGINEERING ASPECTS, vol.619, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 619
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.colsurfa.2021.126542


The fabrication and optimization of cost-effective, eco-friendly, uniform and flexible SERS platforms by facile synthesis routes has recently attracted great attention for trace detection of various analytes. Herein, we report the fabrication of interconnected Ag nanostructures on the unmodified filter paper-based flexible substrates by a facile recipe, which involves evaporation of Ag precursor solution on the filter paper followed by its reduction with a strong reducing agent, NaBH4. The fabrication process is time-efficient, reproducible, and has the potential of being scaled up. The presence of inter-connected nanostructures results in high concentration of uniformly distributed hotspots on the substrate, which in turn provide excellent and reproducible SERS sensitivity. The finite element simulation results showed that fabricated nanostructures are much more effective for field enhancement as compared to the agglomerated spherical nanoparticles. Crystal violet (CV) concentration of 10-8 M was easily detected with these substrates both via solution drying and swabbing. Similarly, AgFPS have proven effective for swab-based detection of urea nitrate (UN), a well-known constituent of homemade explosives. The C-N and NO3 - symmetric stretching modes of UN are detectable down to 1 ?M and 100 ?M concentrations, respectively. Moreover, these substrates showed SERS signal uniformity both from different spots of a single substrate, and substrates from different batches, with spot-to-spot relative standard deviation (RSD) of 15% and sample-to-sample RSD of 15?19%. This makes them excellent for reliable and quick quantitative detection. The simple synthesis strategy, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and quantitative detection makes these substrates ideal for SERS based trace detection, especially for on-site analysis, and various sensing applications.