Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrates are of utmost interest in the analyte detection of biological and chemical diagnostics. This is primarily due to the ability of SERS to sensitively measure analytes present in localized hot spots of the SERS nanostructures. In this work, we present the formation of 67 ± 6 nm diameter gold nanoparticles supported by vertically aligned shell-insulated silicon nanocones for ultralow variance SERS. The nanoparticles are obtained through discrete rotation glancing angle deposition of gold in an e-beam evaporating system. The morphology is assessed through focused ion beam tomography, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. The optical properties are discussed and evaluated through reflectance measurements and finite-difference time-domain simulations. Lastly, the SERS activity is measured by benzenethiol functionalization and subsequent Raman spectroscopy in the surface scanning mode. We report a homogeneous analytical enhancement factor of 2.2 ± 0.1 × 107 (99% confidence interval for N = 400 grid spots) and made a comparison to other lithographically derived assemblies used in SERS. The strikingly low variance (4%) of our substrates facilitates its use for many potential SERS applications.
- gold nanoparticles
- silicon nanocones
- surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy