Effective localized collection and identification of airborne species through electrodynamic precipitation and SERS-based detection
Various nanostructured sensor designs currently aim to achieve or claim single molecular detection by a reduction of the active sensor size. However, a reduction of the sensor size has the negative effect of reducing the capture probability considering the diffusion-based analyte transport commonly used. Here we introduce and apply a localized programmable electrodynamic precipitation concept as an alternative to diffusion. The process provides higher collection rates of airborne species and detection at lower concentration. As an example, we compare an identical nanostructured surfaced-enhanced Raman spectroscopy sensor with and without localized delivery and find that the sensitivity and detection time is improved by at least two orders of magnitudes. Localized collection in an active-matrix array-like fashion is also tested, yielding hybrid molecular arrays on a single chip over a broad range of molecular weights, including small benzenethiol (110.18 Da) and 4-fluorobenzenethiol (128.17 Da), or large macromolecules such as anti-mouse IgG (~150 kDa).