Focused-ion-beam-fabricated Au nanorods coupled with Ag nanoparticles used as surface-enhanced Raman scattering-active substrate for analyzing trace melamine constituents in solution

Kundan Sivashanmugan, Jiunn-Der Liao, Bernard Haochih Liu, Chih-Kai Yao
Analytica Chimica Acta 2013 October 24, 800: 56-64
A well-ordered Au-nanorod array with a controlled tip ring diameter (Au_NRsd) was fabricated using the focused ion beam method. Au_NRsd was then coupled with Ag nanoparticles (Ag NPs) to bridge the gaps among Au nanorods. The effect of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) on Au_NRsd and Ag NPs/Au_NRsd was particularly verified using crystal violet (CV) as the molecular probe. Raman intensity obtained from a characteristic peak of CV on Au_NRsd was estimated by an enhancement factor of ≈10(7) in magnitude, which increased ≈10(12) in magnitude for that on Ag NPs/Au_NRsd. A highly SERS-active Ag NPs/Au_NRsd was furthermore applied for the detection of melamine (MEL) at very low concentrations. Raman-active peaks of MEL (10(-3) to 10(-12)M) in water or milk solution upon Au_NRsd or Ag NPs/Au_NRsd were well distinguished. The peaks at 680 and 702 cm(-1) for MEL molecules were found suitable to be used as the index for sensing low-concentration MEL in a varied solution, while that at 1051 cm(-1) was practical to interpret MEL molecules in water or milk solution bonded with Au (i.e., Au_NRsd) or Ag (i.e., Ag NPs/Au_NRsd) surface. At the interface of Ag NPs/Au_NRsd and MEL molecules in milk solution, a laser-induced electromagnetic field or hotspot effect was produced and competent to sense low-concentration MEL molecules interacting with Ag and Au surfaces. Accordingly, Ag NPs/Au_NRsd is very promising to be used as a fast and sensitive tool for screening MEL in complex matrices such as adulteration in e.g., food and pharmaceutical products.

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