ACS Nano 2014 Aug 8;8(8):7986-94. Epub 2014 Aug 8.
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia , Via Morego 30, 16163 Genova, Italy.
Top-down fabrication of electron-beam lithography (EBL)-defined metallic nanostructures is a successful route to obtain extremely high electromagnetic field enhancement via plasmonic effects in well-defined regions. To this aim, various geometries have been introduced such as disks, triangles, dimers, rings, self-similar lenses, and more. In particular, metallic dimers are highly efficient for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), and their decoupling from the substrate in a three-dimensional design has proven to further improve their performance. However, the large fabrication time and cost has hindered EBL-defined structures from playing a role in practical applications. Here we present three-dimensional nanostar dimer devices that can be recycled via maskless metal etching and deposition processes, due to conservation of the nanostructure pattern in the 3D geometry of the underlying Si substrate. Furthermore, our 3D-nanostar-dimer-in-ring structures (3D-NSDiRs) incorporate several advantageous aspects for SERS by enhancing the performance of plasmonic dimers via an external ring cavity, by efficient decoupling from the substrate through an elevated 3D design, and by bimetallic AuAg layers that exploit the increased performance of Ag while maintaining the biocompatibility of Au. We demonstrate SERS detection on rhodamine and adenine at extremely low density up to the limit of few molecules and analyze the field enhancement of the 3D-NSDiRs with respect to the exciting wavelength and metal composition.