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Gold nanoparticles have been used as effective surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrates for decades. However, the origin of the enhancement and the effect of the size of nanoparticles still need clarification. Here, gold nanoparticles with different sizes from 17 to 80 nm were synthesized and characterized, and their SERS enhancement toward both 4-aminothiophenol and 4-nitrothiophenol was examined. For the same number of nanoparticles, the enhancement factor generated from the gold nanoparticles increases as the size of nanoparticles increases. Interestingly, when the concentration of gold or the total surface area of gold nanoparticles was kept the same, the optimal size of gold nanoparticles was found out to be around 50 nm when the enhancement factor reached a maximum. The same size effect was observed for both 4-aminothiophenol and 4-nitrothiophenol, which suggests that the conclusions drawn in this study might also be applicable to other adsorbates during SERS measurements.

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Journal of Nanomaterials, v. 2013, art. 790323