My name is Xander Cikanek. I am a rising junior at University of Rochester, and this summer I am working with Dr. Strobbia and Dr. Kissel. Traditional lateral flow assays (LFAs) use colorimetric detection: tags attach to a test line and the operator receives a diagnostic response for a specific pathogen or biomarker by observing the line color. This method of detection has several disadvantages, including limited quantification capabilities and low sensitivity. By using surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) tags in lateral flow assays (SERS-LFAs), we can overcome these disadvantages at the cost of adding a Raman reader. In this work, various nanomaterials were prepared and characterized to identify the optimal material for SERS-LFAs. We tested gold nanospheres, gold nanostars and silver coated gold nanostars to identify particles with ideal plasmonic properties, stability in solution, flow within the assay’s paper, and SERS signal. To ensure the consistency of these SERS-LFAs, the nanoparticle concentration, Raman reporter concentration, and stability of the nanoparticles must be predictable. To establish a reliable concentration-optical density relationship, UV-Vis spectroscopy and nanoparticle tracking analysis were employed. Once concentration could be reliably predicted, the nanoparticles were functionalized with a Raman reporter molecule and characterized. Finally, the nanomaterials were tested on LFA’s using a lab-built Raman reader to scan the LFA strip. Our work provides the basis for understanding the role of different plasmonic particles in SERS-LFAs.
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