Y. Bellouard, E. Block, J. Squier, and J. Gobet, "Plasmon-less surface enhanced Raman spectra induced by self-organized networks of silica nanoparticles produced by femtosecond lasers," Optics Express 25, 9587 (2017).
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Raman spectroscopy is the workhorse for label-free analysis of molecules. It relies on the inelastic scattering of incoming monochromatic light impinging molecules of interest. This effect leads to a very weak emission of light spectrum that provides a signature of the molecules being observed. Considerable efforts have been made over the last decades, in particular with the development of Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS), to enhance the intensity of the emitted signal so that ultimately, traces of molecules can be detected. Here, we show that dense self-organized networks of quasi-monodisperse nanoparticles redepositing during femtosecond laser ablation of trenches in fused silica can lead to a significant field enhancement effect, enabling the Raman detection of a single-molecule layer deposited on the surface (so called monolayer). Unlike previously reported for SERS experiments, here, there is no metal layer promoting plasmonics effects causing localized field enhancement. The method for producing SERS substrates is therefore quite straightforward and low cost. (Download / PDF)