Gold-Etched Silver Nanowire Endoscopy: Toward a Widely Accessible Platform for Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering-Based Analysis in Living Cells

Monica Ricci, Beatrice Fortuni, Raffaele Vitale, Qiang Zhang, Yasuhiko Fujita, Shuichi Toyouchi, Gang Lu, Susana Rocha, Tomoko Inose, Hiroshi Uji-i (see publication in Journal or in Research Gate )


Recently, our group introduced the use of silver nanowires (AgNWs) as novel non-invasive endoscopic probes for detecting intracellular Raman signals. This method, although innovative and promising, relies exclusively on the plasmonic waveguiding effect for signal enhancement. It, therefore, requires sophisticated operational tools and protocols, drastically limiting its applicability. Herein, an advanced strategy is offered to significantly enhance the performance of these endoscopic probes, making this approach widely accessible and versatile for cellular studies. By uniformly forming gold structures on the smooth AgNW surface via a galvanic replacement reaction, the density of the light coupling points along the whole probe surface is drastically increased, enabling high surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) efficiency upon solely focusing the excitation light on the gold-etched AgNW. The applicability of these gold-etched AgNW probes for molecular sensing in cells is demonstrated by detecting site-specific and high-resolved SERS spectra of cell compartment-labeling dyes, namely, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole in the nucleus and 3,3′-dioctadecyloxacarbocyanine on the membrane. The remarkable spectral sensitivity achieved provides essential structural information of the analytes, indicating the overall potential of the proposed approach for cellular studies of drug interactions with biomolecular items.