Dependence of SERS enhancement on the chemical composition and structure of Ag/Au hybrid nanoparticles


Noble metal nanoparticles (NPs) such as silver (Ag) and gold (Au) have unique plasmonic properties that give rise to surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). Generally, Ag NPs have much stronger plasmonic properties and, hence, provide stronger SERS signals than Au NPs. However, Ag NPs lack the chemical stability and biocompatibility of comparable Au NPs and typically exhibit the most intense plasmonic resonance at wavelengths much shorter than the optimal spectral region for many biomedical applications. To overcome these issues, various experimental efforts have been devoted to the synthesis of Ag/Au hybrid NPs for the purpose of SERS detections. However, a complete understanding on how the SERS enhancement depends on the chemical composition and structure of these nanoparticles has not been achieved. In this study, Mie theory and the discrete dipole approximation have been used to calculate the plasmonic spectra and near-field electromagnetic enhancements of Ag/Au hybrid NPs. In particular, we discuss how the electromagnetic enhancement depends on the mole fraction of Au in Ag/Au alloy NPs and how one may use extinction spectra to distinguish between Ag/Au alloyed NPs and Ag-Au core-shell NPs. We also show that for incident laser wavelengths between ∼410 nm and 520 nm, Ag/Au alloyed NPs provide better electromagnetic enhancement than pure Ag, pure Au, or Ag-Au core-shell structured NPs. Finally, we show that silica-core Ag/Au alloy shelled NPs provide even better performance than pure Ag/Au alloy or pure solid Ag and pure solid Au NPs. The theoretical results presented will be beneficial to the experimental efforts in optimizing the design of Ag/Au hybrid NPs for SERS-based detection methods.

Publication Title

Journal of Chemical Physics