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A novel wide-field approach for the real-time Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) imaging of multiple silver nanoparticle clusters suspended in solution is described. This method enables direct correlation of the SERS activity of a single nanoparticle aggregate and its size through measurement of the cluster diffusion coefficient and can also be performed in a high-throughput basis. As a first demonstration, we investigate the salt-induced aggregation of silver nanoparticles in the presence of a reporter tag molecule which has a high affinity for the nanoparticle surface. In addition to tracking individual particles, direct comparison of Rayleigh and SERS videos of the same colloid solution enabled measurement of the fraction of individual clusters that are SERS active and the dependence of this value on the relative concentration of the tag molecule. Furthermore, given the ability to also rapidly profile any non-uniformity in particle size distributions, we expect this approach will not only provide a new tool for the fundamental understanding of SERS but also significantly contribute to the development of an array of emerging nanoparticle-enhanced biomolecule and imaging detection platforms.
- single-particle tracking