SERS Substrates Made With Pocket Change | April 4, 2011 Issue - Vol. 89 Issue 14 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 14 | p. 37 | Concentrates
Issue Date: April 4, 2011

SERS Substrates Made With Pocket Change

ACS Meeting News: Metal substrates needed for Raman spectroscopy technique can be made with everyday objects--even coins
Department: Science & Technology, ACS News
News Channels: Analytical SCENE
Keywords: SERS, Raman, coin, substrate, portable, ACS national meeting
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Silver features form by galvanic displacement of nickel on the surface of a dime.
Credit: Jordan Betz
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Silver features form by galvanic displacement of nickel on the surface of a dime.
Credit: Jordan Betz

Metal substrates needed for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) can be made with everyday objects—even coins—reported Jordan F. Betz, a graduate student in Gary W. Rubloff’s research group at the University of Maryland. This simple approach allows substrates to be prepared quickly and easily for portable SERS analyses. Betz described how he and his coworkers developed the ability to turn loose change into SERS substrates in 30 minutes or less by using galvanic displacement of coins in a silver nitrate solution. In the electrochemical process, microscale and nanoscale silver features form on the surface of the coins as silver from the solution displaces copper or nickel. “The most expensive part of the reaction is the coin itself,” Betz said. “The amount of silver we use is only a fraction of a penny, even at today’s prices for precious metals.” Using the dye rhodamine 6G as a model compound, the Maryland researchers have demonstrated that their substrates can enhance a regular Raman signal by a factor of 109.

 
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