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Lab-on-a-Bubble: Synthesis, Characterization, and Evaluation of Buoyant Gold Nanoparticle-Coated Silica Spheres

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posted on 11.01.2012, 00:00 by Virginia L. Schmit, Richard Martoglio, Brandon Scott, Aaron D. Strickland, Keith T. Carron
This paper describes the development and preparation of a new class of materials for surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) consisting of gold nanoparticles coated onto hollow, buoyant silica microspheres. These materials allow for a new type of molecular assay designated as a lab-on-a-bubble (LoB). LoB materials serve as a convenient platform for the detection of analytes in solution and offer several advantages over traditional colloidal gold and planar SERS substrates, such as the ability to localize and concentrate analytes for detection. An example assay is presented using the LoB method and cyanide detection. Cyanide binds to SERS-active, gold-coated LoBs and is detected directly from the corresponding SERS signal. The abilities of LoBs and a gold colloid to detect cyanide are compared, and in both cases, a detection limit of ∼170 ppt was determined. Differences in measurement error using LoBs versus gold colloid are also described, as well as an assay for 5,5′-dithiobis(2-nitrobenzoic acid) that shows the benefit of using LoBs over SERS analyses in colloids, which are often plagued by particle aggregation.