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Comparison of Three Methods to Improve Adherence of Thin Gold Films to Glass Substrates and Their Effect on the SERS Response

Volume 53, Number 7 (July 1999) Page 862-873

Mosier-Boss, Pamela A.; Lieberman, Steven H.

Vapor-deposited Ag and Au films exhibit high surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) sensitivity. With thin metal films, SERS spectra can be obtained by using a "backside" configuration in which the laser light is focused through the substrate onto the metal film/liquid (or gas) interface. Use of the "backside" configuration is particularly advantageous for obtaining SERS spectra of aqueous samples. Because excitation occurs only at the metal/film/liquid interface, both attenuation of the signal by water and fluorescence interference are minimized. However, noble metals, such as Ag and Au, do not adhere well to glass substrates, and significant exposure to water damages the films. In this paper, three methods of adhering Au to glass and their effect on the SERS response are examined. The methods include the use of a buffer metal between the SERS-active metal film and the glass substrate; the use of (3-mercaptopropyl)trimethoxysilane (MCTMS); and the use of organometallic paints. Of the methods examined, the best film adherence and SERS response was obtained by using MCTMS to bind the metal film to a chemically etched glass slide.