Towards single-microorganism detection using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy

Mehmet Kahraman, M. Müge Yazici, Fikrettin Şahin, Ömer F. Bayrak, Emine Topçu, Mustafa Çulha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The identification and discrimination of microorganisms is important not only for clinical reasons but also for pharmaceutical clean room production and food-processing technology. Vibrational spectroscopy such as IR, Raman, and surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) can provide a rapid 'fingerprint' on the chemical structure of molecules and is used to obtain a 'fingerprint' from microorganisms as well. Because of the requirement that a single bacterium cell and noble metal nanoparticles must be in close contact and the lack of a significant physical support to hold nanoparticles around the single bacterium cell, the acquisition of SERS spectra for a single bacterium using colloidal nanoparticles could be a challenging task. The feasibility of SERS for identification down to a single bacterium is investigated. A Gram-negative bacterium, Escherichia coli, is chosen as a model for the investigation. Because the adsorption of silver nanoparticles onto the bacterial cell is an exclusive way for locating nanoparticles close to the bacterium cell, the absorption characteristics of silver nanoparticles with different surface charges are investigated. It is demonstrated that the citrate-reduced colloidal silver solution generates more reproducible SERS spectra. It is found that E. coli cells aggregate upon mixing with silver colloidal solution, and this may provide an additional benefit in locating the bacterial cell under a light microscope. It is also found that a laser wavelength in the UV region could be a better choice for the study due to the shallow penetration depth. It is finally shown that it is possible to obtain SERS spectra from a single cell down to a few bacterial cells, depending on the aggregation properties of bacterial cells for identification and discrimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-770
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry
Issue number10-11
StatePublished - Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Detection
  • Microorganism
  • Nanoparticles
  • Raman
  • SERS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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