Alternative nano-lithographic tools for shell-isolated nanoparticle enhanced Raman spectroscopy substrates

Ketki Srivastava, Thimo S. Jacobs, Stefan Ostendorp, Dirk Jonker, Floor A. Brzesowsky, Arturo Susarrey-Arce, Han Gardeniers, Gerhard Wilde, Bert M. Weckhuysen, Albert van den Berg, Ward van der Stam*, Mathieu Odijk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Chemically synthesized metal nanoparticles (MNPs) have been widely used as surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrates for monitoring catalytic reactions. In some applications, however, the SERS MNPs, besides being plasmonically active, can also be catalytically active and result in Raman signals from undesired side products. The MNPs are typically insulated with a thin (∼3 nm), in principle pin-hole-free shell to prevent this. This approach, which is known as shell-isolated nanoparticle-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SHINERS), offers many advantages, such as better thermal and chemical stability of the plasmonic nanoparticle. However, having both a high enhancement factor and ensuring that the shell is pin-hole-free is challenging because there is a trade-off between the two when considering the shell thickness. So far in the literature, shell insulation has been successfully applied only to chemically synthesized MNPs. In this work, we alternatively study different combinations of chemical synthesis (bottom-up) and lithographic (top-down) routes to obtain shell-isolated plasmonic nanostructures that offer chemical sensing capabilities. The three approaches we study in this work include (1) chemically synthesized MNPs + chemical shell, (2) lithographic substrate + chemical shell, and (3) lithographic substrate + atomic layer deposition (ALD) shell. We find that ALD allows us to fabricate controllable and reproducible pin-hole-free shells. We showcase the ability to fabricate lithographic SHINER substrates which report an enhancement factor of 7.5 × 103 ± 17% for our gold nanodot substrates coated with a 2.8 nm aluminium oxide shell. Lastly, by introducing a gold etchant solution to our fabricated SHINER substrate, we verified that the shells fabricated with ALD are truly pin-hole-free.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 14 Mar 2024


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