Application of SERS nanoparticles for intracellular pH measurements

Ted Laurence, Chad Talley, Michael Colvin, Thomas R Huser

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We present an alternative approach to optical probes that will ultimately allow us to measure chemical concentrations in microenvironments within cells and tissues. This approach is based on monitoring the surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) response of functionalized metal nanoparticles (50-100 nm in diameter). SERS allows for the sensitive detection of changes in the state of chemical groups attached to individual nanoparticles and small clusters. Here, we present the development of a nanoscale pH meter. The pH response of these nanoprobes is tested in a cell-free medium, measuring the pH of the solution immediately surrounding the nanoparticles. Heterogeneities in the SERS signal, which can result from the formation of small nanoparticle clusters, are characterized using SERS correlation spectroscopy and single particle/cluster SERS spectroscopy. The response of the nanoscale pH meters is tested under a wide range of conditions to approach the complex environment encountered inside living cells and to optimize probe performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
EditorsN.J. Halas, T.R. Huser
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2004
EventPlasmonics: Metallic Nanostructures and Their Optical Properties II - Denver, CO, United States
Duration: Aug 2 2004Aug 3 2004


OtherPlasmonics: Metallic Nanostructures and Their Optical Properties II
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityDenver, CO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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