Advanced gas sensors using SERS-activated waveguides

Robert Lascola, Scott McWhorter, Simona Hunyadi Murph

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


This contribution describes progress towards the development and testing of a functionalized capillary that will provide detection of low-concentration gas-phase analytes through SERS. Measurement inside a waveguide allows interrogation of a large surface area, potentially overcoming the short distance dependence of the SERS effect. The possible use of Raman spectroscopy for gas detection is attractive for IR-inactive molecules or scenarios where infrared technology is inconvenient. However, the weakness of Raman scattering limits the use of the technique to situations where low detection limits are not required or large gas pressures are present. With surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), signal enhancements of 106 are often claimed, and higher values are seen in specific instances. However, most of the examples of SERS analysis are on liquid-phase samples, where the molecular density is high, usually combined with some sort of sample concentration at the surface. Neither of these factors is present in gas-phase samples. Because the laser is focused to a small point in the typical experimental setup, and the spatial extent of the effect above the surface is small (microns), the excitation volume is miniscule. Thus, exceptionally large enhancements are required to generate a signal comparable to that obtained by conventional Raman measurements. A reflective waveguide offers a way to increase the interaction volume of the laser with a SERS-modified surface. The use of a waveguide to enhance classical Raman measurements was recently demonstrated by S.M. Angel and coworkers, who obtained 12- to 30-fold sensitivity improvements for nonabsorbing gases (CO 2, CH4) with a silvered capillary (no SERS enhancement). Shi et al.. demonstrated 10-to 100-fold enhancement of aqueous Rhodamine 6G in a capillary coated with silver nanoparticles. They observed enhancements of 10- to 100-fold compared to direct sampling, but this relied on a "double substrate", which required non-specific interactions between the surface coating and additional nanoparticles suspended in solution to which the analyte had been coupled. Clearly, for a gas sensor, such a scheme is not feasible, and in any event the reliance on the random configuration of the nanoparticles and the analyte is not expected to lead to efficient enhancement. Here, we report the creation of capillary coatings of self-assembled, aggregated high aspect ratio metallic nanoparticles (e.g. rod, wires) with a solution-phase technique. Self-assembly offers the possibility for a high density of SERS hot spots, which are often observed at the junction of adjacent particles. Shaped nanoparticles also enhance self-assembled deposition, and allow further control of the optical properties of the coating through manipulation of the morphology. SERS enhancements for gases are reported relative to mirrored capillaries and free-space measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationXXII International Conference on Raman Spectroscopy, ICORS 2010
Number of pages2
StatePublished - Dec 14 2010
Event22nd International Conference on Raman Spectroscopy, ICORS 2010 - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Aug 8 2010Aug 13 2010


Other22nd International Conference on Raman Spectroscopy, ICORS 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBoston, MA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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