Research on surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is an area of intense interest because the technique allows one to probe small collections of, and in certain cases, individual molecules using relatively straightforward spectroscopic techniques and nanostructured substrates. Researchers in this area have attempted to develop many new technological innovations including high sensitivity chemical and biological detection systems, labeling schemes for authentication and tracking purposes, and dual scanning-probe/spectroscopic techniques that simultaneously provide topographical and spectroscopic information about an underlying surface or nanostructure. However, progress has been hampered by the inability of researchers to fabricate substrates with the high sensitivity, tunability, robustness, and reproducibility necessary for truly practical and successful SERS-based systems. These limitations have been due in part to a relative lack of control over the nanoscale features of Raman substrates that are responsible for the enhancement. With the advent of nanotechnology, new approaches are being developed to overcome these issues and produce substrates with higher sensitivity, stability, and reproducibility. This tutorial review focuses on recent progress in the design and fabrication of substrates for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, with an emphasis on the influence of nanotechnology.
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