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Place & Play SERS: sample collection and preparation-free surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy

Yasutaka KitahamaPablo Martinez PancorboHiroki Segawa ...+4 Keisuke Goda
Dec 2022
The ability to perform sensitive, real-time, in situ, multiplex chemicalanalysis is indispensable for diverse applications such as human healthmonitoring, food safety testing, forensic analysis, environmental sensing, andhomeland security. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is an effectivetool to offer the ability by virtue of its high sensitivity and rapidlabel-free signal detection as well as the availability of portable Ramanspectrometers. Unfortunately, the practical utility of SERS is limited becauseit generally requires sample collection and preparation, namely, collecting asample from an object of interest and placing the sample on top of a SERSsubstrate to perform a SERS measurement. In fact, not all analytes can satisfythis requirement because the sample collection and preparation process may beundesirable, laborious, difficult, dangerous, costly, or time-consuming. Herewe introduce "Place & Play SERS" based on an ultrathin, flexible, stretchable,adhesive, biointegratable gold-deposited polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) nanomeshsubstrate that enables placing the substrate on top of an object of interestand performing a SERS measurement of the object by epi-excitation without theneed for touching, destroying, and sampling it. Specifically, we characterizedthe sensitivity of the gold/PVA nanomesh substrate in the Place & Play SERSmeasurement scheme and then used the scheme to conduct SERS measurements ofboth wet and dry objects under nearly real-world conditions. To show thepractical utility of Place & Play SERS, we demonstrated two practicalapplications: food safety testing and forensic analysis. Our results firmlyverified the new measurement scheme of SERS and are expected to extend thepotential of SERS by opening up untapped applications of sensitive, real-time,in situ multiplex chemical analysis.