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Surface enhanced resonance Raman spectroscopy (SERRS) for probing through plastic and tissue barriers using a handheld spectrometer

Nicolson, Fay and Jamieson, Lauren E. and Mabbott, Samuel and Plakas, Konstantinos and Shand, Neil C. and Detty, Michael R. and Graham, Duncan and Faulds, Karen (2018) Surface enhanced resonance Raman spectroscopy (SERRS) for probing through plastic and tissue barriers using a handheld spectrometer. Analyst. ISSN 0003-2654

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The ability to probe through barriers and tissue non-invasively is an urgent unmet need in both the security and biomedical imaging fields. Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) has been shown to yield superior enhancement in signal over conventional Raman techniques. Furthermore, by utilising a resonant Raman reporter to produce surface enhanced resonance Raman spectroscopy (SERRS), even greater enhancement in chemical signal can be generated. Here we show the benefit of using red-shifted chalcogenpyrylium based Raman reporters for probing through large thicknesses of plastic and tissue barriers using a conventional Raman instrument. Furthermore, the benefit of using a resonant Raman reporter for superior levels of through barrier detection is demonstrated, thus we aim to show the advantage of using resonant nanotags in combination with conventional Raman spectroscopy to probe through plastic and tissue barriers. Raman signals were collected from SERRS active nanotags through plastic thicknesses of up to 20 mm, as well as the detection of the same SERRS nanotags through up to 10 mm of tissue sections using a handheld conventional Raman spectrometer. The ability to detect SERRS-active nanotags taken up into ex vivo tumour models known as multicellular tumour spheroids (MTS), through depths of 5 mm of tissue was also shown. The advantages of applying multivariate analysis for through barrier detection when discriminating analytes with similar spectral features as the barrier is also clearly demonstrated. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the assessment of the maximum level of through barrier detection using a conventional handheld Raman instrument for SERS applications as well as demonstration of the power of resonant nanotags for probing through barriers using conventional Raman spectroscopy.