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Detection of Biological Species by Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering

A. Sengupta, M. Volny, C.B. Wilson, F. Turecek and E.J. Davis
University of Washington, US

Keywords:
surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy, nanometallic particles

Abstract:
The rationale behind this work is to explore the application of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) to detect and identify biological species, especially some common pathogens that are involved in food poisoning and water contamination. SERS is a powerful tool to probe bacterial cell wall surfaces and provides rich chemical information of the different chemical moieties present in the cell wall. SERS also provides a label-free optical detection technique, which is non-invasive and less time consuming when compared to the conventional methods where we need to grow the bacterial cells over a period of 18-24 hours prior to analysis. In this work we explored the identification and detection of bacteria by SERS using nanometallic particles. The detection limit for our system is at least two orders of magnitude lower than the FDA recommended value. Another objective of our research is to develop an online SERS based detector system for water and airborne biological species. In this respect, we were able to obtain reproducible bacterial fingerprints after aerosolizing them from an aqueous suspension. The SERS study has led to four manuscripts (three published, one submitted).

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