Smart 'Gold' Sensor Detects Single Molecule In Chemical Compounds

First Posted: Nov 25, 2015 12:22 PM EST

A team of Australian and Italian researchers have created a smart sensor, made with gold, that detects single molecules in chemical and biological compounds. The new sensor is considered to be an asset in medicine and security applications.

The researchers applied a chemical and biochemical sensing technique known as surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), according to the study. This technique enabled the researchers to understand the composition of materials.

The researchers were able to increase the sensor's performance by altering its nanostructures, where "hotspots" were created close to the metal surfaces. The researchers created the sensor by using gold nanoparticles, which "self-assembled onto a gold-and-silica-coated silicon base." This means that the nanoparticles have the ideal spacing, which allows them to have evenly distributed hotspots on the surface.

"The sensor shows not only a good SERS reproducibility but also the ability to repetitively catch and release molecules for single-molecular sensing," said Dr. Lorenzo Rosa, a co-author of the study. "This reversible trapping process makes it possible to detect an abundance of analytes in one measurement, but also to reuse the SERS substrate multiple times."

The researchers' new technique has several potential applications, where it can measure and detect sensitivity to light, pH and humidity.

The findings of htis tsudy were published in Nature Communications.

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