Surface-enhanced resonance Raman scattering (SERRS) of a model derivative of TNT was detected using a microflow cell designed within the framework of the lab-on-a-chip concept, using only the analyte and readily available reagents. The SERRS substrate, silver colloid, was prepared in situ, on-chip, by borohydride reduction of silver nitrate. The silver colloid was imaged within the chip using a white light microscope in either transmission or, due to the high reflectivity of the colloid, reflection mode. A fine stream of colloid ∼30 μm in width was formed in a 250-μm-wide channel at the point where the colloid preparation reagents met. The chip was designed to produce a concentrated stream of colloid within a laminar regime, such that particles did not readily disperse into the fluid. One result of this was to reduce the effective volume of analysis. Attempts to deliberately disrupt this stream with microstructured pillars, fabricated in the fluidic channels, were unsuccessful. The chip was also designed to have the appropriate dimensions for detection using a modern Raman microscope system, which collects scattering from a very small volume. A dye derived from TNT was used as a model analyte. Quantitative behavior was obtained over 4 orders of magnitude with a detection limit of 10 fmol. This performance is between 1 and 2 orders of magnitude better than that achieved using a macroflow SERRS cell. The technique has the added advantage that both reagent consumption and effluent production are greatly reduced, leading to reduced operating costs and a decreased environmental impact.
Keir, R., Igata, E., Arundell, M., Smith, W. E., Graham, D., McHugh, C., & Cooper, J. M. (2002). SERRS. in-situ substrate formation and improved detection using microfluidics. Analytical Chemistry, 74(7), 1503-1508. https://doi.org/10.1021/ac015625+