Does this make SERS to you? 

Surface Enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a powerful, label-free, optical technique which allows for the detection and characterisation of molecules down to single molecule sensitivity. Unlike traditional Raman spectroscopy, SERS relies on the sample interacting with the resonant plasmonic near-fields of metallic nanoparticles. The advantages of this technique are several, including the fact that it is widely applicable, fast, and non-destructive. Although SERS is routinely performed in the laboratory, new technological advances have permitted the construction of portable spectrometers that can be transported directly to the material to be analysed, rather than taking the material to the laboratory.

While in-situ Raman is not uncommon, in-situ SERS is still very rare indeed. This is primarily due to problems surrounding sample preparation (how do you get plasmonic nanoparticles – absolutely essential to the SERS phenomena – to interact with your sample of interest; a particular problem if that sample is a living organism or a priceless artefact of some description), but also to the fact that the potential end-users are not yet fully aware of the applicability of this method in their fields.

‘Does this make SERS to you?’ brings together technical experts in this field with potential end-users in academia and industry through three workshops. The goal of these Scotland-wide networking workshops will be to explore novel opportunities both in terms of improving the present technology and widening the range of studies in which in-situ SERS can be applied. By creating a common understanding of the capabilities and equally limitations of SERS methods, the possibility to tailor the technology to the specific needs of varied end-users can be explored.

There are a wide range of possible applications. Three project areas of particular interest to the collaborators are:

1. In-situ SERS and chemical hazards

Exploring the possibility to detect pollutants or poisons in a range of substrates using portable SERS systems. This has applications in urban development, bioremediation, security and even food quality assurance.

2. In-situ SERS and textile conservation

Finding out if SERS methods could be used in the forensic study of historic artefacts (historic textiles initially) to not only help decipher their historic significance but also support their sustainable conservation.

3. In-Situ SERS and biological fitness

Examining  if SERS methods could be used to quantify the “quality” of a farmed animal or plant by detecting some of the numerous chemical, mineral and/or genetic parameters have been demonstrated to reflect their fitness.


University of Glasgow, 13 May 2013

University of Stirling, date to be confirmed

University of Aberdeen, date to be confirmed


Dr Andrew Davie (Principal Investigator), Institute of Aquaculture, School of Natural Sciences University of Stirling

Dr Anita Quye (Co Investigator), Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History, School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow

Dr Johannes Kiefer (CI), School of Engineering, University of Aberdeen

Dr Geoff Cooper (CI), School of Chemistry, University of Glasgow

Dr Alasdair Clarke (CI), Biomedical Engineering Research Division, University of Glasgow

Dr Cristina Persano (CI), School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow


Royal Society of Edinburgh Scottish Crucible


1 November 2012 – 31 October 2013.