Three-dimensional silver nanoparticles decorated vertically aligned Si nanowires (Si NWs) are effective surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrates for molecular detection at low concentration levels. The length of Si NWs prepared by silver assisted electroless etching is increased with an increase in etching time, which resulted in the reduced optical reflection in the visible region. These substrates were tested and optimized by measuring the Raman spectrum of standard dye Rhodamine 6G (R6G) of 10 nM concentration. Further, effective SERS enhancements of ∼105 and ∼104 were observed for the cytosine protein (concentration of 50 μM) and ammonium perchlorate (oxidizer used in explosives composition with a concentration of 10 μM), respectively. It is established that these three-dimensional SERS substrates yielded considerably higher enhancement factors for the detection of R6G when compared to previous reports. The sensitivity can further be increased and optimized since the Raman enhancement was found to increase with an increase in the density of silver nanoparticles decorated on the walls of Si NWs.

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