From airport security detecting explosives to art historians authenticating paintings, society’s thirst for powerful sensors is growing. Given that, few sensing techniques can match the buzz created by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). Discovered in the 1970s, SERS is a sensing technique prized for its ability to identify chemical and biological molecules in a wide range of fields. It has been commercialized, but not widely, because the materials required to perform the sensing are consumed upon use, relatively expensive and complicated to fabricate. That may soon change. An international research team led by University at Buffalo engineers has developed nanotechnology that promises to make SERS simpler and more affordable. Described in a new research paper, the photonics advancement aims to improve our ability to detect trace amounts of molecules in diseases, chemical warfare agents, fraudulent paintings, environmental contaminants and more.
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