Size Tunable Au@Ag Core–Shell Nanoparticles: Synthesis and Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering Properties

We describe a simple and efficient methodology for the aqueous synthesis of stable, uniform, and size tunable Au@Ag core–shell nanoparticles (NPs) that are stabilized by citrate ions. The synthetic route is based on the stepwise Ag reduction on preformed Au NPs. The final size of the core–shell NPs and therefore their optical properties can be modulated at least from 30 to 110 nm by either tuning the Ag shell thickness or changing the size of the Au core. The optical properties of the Au@Ag core–shell NPs resemble those of pure Ag NPs of similar sizes, which was confirmed by means of Mie extinction calculations. We additionally evaluated the surface-enhanced raman scattering (SERS) enhancing properties of Au@Ag core–shell NP colloids with three different laser lines (532, 633, and 785 nm). Importantly, such core–shell NPs also exhibit a higher SERS efficiency than Ag NPs of similar size under near-infrared excitation. The results obtained here serve as a basis to select Au@Ag core–shell NPs of specific size and composition with maximum SERS efficiency at their respective excitation wavelengths for SERS-based analytical and bioimaging applications.