A Raman spectrum contains an optical fingerprint of a molecule. The molecular information provided by Raman spectra can allow unequivocal identification of chemicals or biological substances. The traditional Raman spectroscopy technique is disadvantaged by the weakness of the Raman signals. Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) technology combines laser Raman spectroscopy with optical properties of excited metallic nanostructures that can significantly increase the Raman signals by several order of magnitude. As an emerging detection technology capable of ultra high sensitivity, SERS has opened up many exciting opportunities in bio/chemical sensing. Recent applications of Raman spectroscopy and SERS include trace chemical and toxin detection, identification of microorganisms, immunoassays, DNA/gene analysis, and non-invasive medical diagnostic tools.
I will provide an overview of Raman spectroscopy and SERS, as well as its recent developments in the field of bio/chemical sensing. I will also discuss my current research activities in developing an effective and low cost SERS-based bio/chemical sensor for real time in-situ applications. With the increasing concerns over public health, food and water safety, and more recently, biological/chemical terrorism, there are urgent demands for fast and effective bio/chemical sensors.