SERS SLIPS Ahead
Can a new slippery surface for Raman scattering open the door to routine single molecule detection?
Tak Sing Wong |
Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) has high molecular specificity and high sensitivity, but its applicability is limited by a reliance on aqueous solvents for extraction and poor performance in heavily diluted solutions. Now, researchers from Pennsylvania State University have combined SERS with slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces (SLIPS) to create... You guessed it: SLIPSERS (1). We spoke with Tak Sing Wong, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and lead author of the study, to find out how they’re addressing the limitations of SERS.
Why focus on SERS?
SERS is a very powerful platform for molecular diagnostics and analysis. However, there are two important roadblocks that limit its practical application. First, SERS detection in liquid media relies on highly statistical binding of analytes to the SERS-sensitive regions (or “hot spots”) because of the diffusive nature of the analytes. As a result, it is very challenging to achieve single-molecule detection in highly diluted solutions. Second, many real-life analytes may be dispersed in liquid or gas phases or may be bound to solid substrates (for example, soil), which may require the use of non-aqueous solvents for extraction.
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