Fabrication of Plasmonically Active Substrates Using Engineered Silver Nanostructures for SERS Applications
Journal article, 2017
Demanding applications in sensing, metasurfaces, catalysis, and biotechnology require fabrication of plasmonically active substrates. Herein, we demonstrate a bottom-up, versatile, and scalable approach that relies on direct growth of silver nanostructures from seed particles that were immobilized on polymer brush-grafted substrates. Our approach is based on (i) the uniform and tunable assembly of citrate-stabilized gold nanoparticles on poly(ethylene glycol) brushes to serve as seeds and (ii) the use of hydroquinone as a reducing agent, which is extremely selective to the presence of seed particles, confining the growth of silver nanostructures on the surface of the substrate. The diameter of the seed particles, concentration, as well as ratio of reactants and duration of the growth process are investigated for large-area growth of silver nanostructures with high surface coverage and plasmonic activity. The resulting silver nanostructures exhibit high levels of surface-enhanced Raman scattering activity at two different laser lines and allow detection of molecules at concentrations as low as 10 pM. The plasmonic properties of the silver nanostructures are further studied using ultrafast pump-probe spectroscopy. Spatially defined silver nanostructures are fabricated through the seed particles that are patterned via soft lithography, showing the capabilities of the presented approach in device applications.