Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) has been shown to be a highly promising molecular sensing technique, especially in aqueous and biological applications due to its high sensitivity, rich spectroscopic information, and excellent water compatibility. Due to the nature of SERS, a plasmonic metal substrate is required to achieve Raman signal amplification and gold nanoparticle (AuNP) assemblies can provide an easy to modify, and simple to synthesise substrate that provide excellent Raman signal enhancement. Most SERS substrates directly detect chemical species when they adsorb to the gold nanoparticles. This approach is useful for simple samples but fails when applied to multicomponent samples such as biological samples. An alternative approach is to pre-label the gold nanoparticles with a molecule that has specific reactivity with an analyte of interest which results in highly selective detection of chemical species in complex samples. This project will involve developing plasmonic chemical sensors that use this second approach and will be embedded in polymer or hydrogel substrates. The project can be tailored target different future applications, such as wearble sensors for detection of disease biomarkers, sensors for detection of environmental toxins, or any other application that relies on selective detection of chemical species.

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