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Interference-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy as a Promising Tool for the Detection of Biomolecules on Raman-Compatible Surfaces

Pahlow, Susanne; Mayerhöfer, Thomas G.; van der Loh, Marie; Hübner, Uwe; Dellith, Jan; Weber, Karina; Popp, Jürgen
in: Analytical Chemistry (2018) 9025

Raman spectroscopy in combination with appropriate sample preparation strategies, for example, enrichment of bacteria on metal surfaces, has been proven to be a promising approach for rapidly diagnosing infectious diseases. Unfortunately, the fabrication of the required chip substrates is usually very challenging due to the lack of feasible instruments that can be used for quality control in the surface modification process. The intrinsically weak Raman signal of the biomolecules, employed for the enrichment of the microorganisms on the chip surface, does not allow for monitoring of the successful immobilization by means of a Raman spectroscopic approach. Within this contribution, we demonstrate how a simple modification of a plain aluminum surface enables enhancement (or a decrease, if desired) of the Raman signal of molecules deposited on that surface. The manipulation of the Raman signal strength is achieved via exploiting interference effects that occur, if the highly reflective aluminum surface is modified with thin layers of transparent dielectrics like aluminum oxide. The thicknesses of these layers were determined by theoretical considerations and calculations. For the first time, it is shown that the interference effects can be used for the detection of biomolecules as well by investigating the siderophore ferrioxamine B. The observed degree of enhancement was approximately 1 order of magnitude. Moreover, the employed aluminum/aluminum oxide layers have been thoroughly characterized using atomic force and scanning electron microscopy as well as X-ray reflectometry and UV-Vis measurements.

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