Machine Learning-Assisted Sampling of SERS Substrates Improves Data Collection Efficiency

Tatu Rojalin, Dexter Antonio, Ambarish Kulkarni, Randy P. Carney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is a powerful technique for sensitive label-free analysis of chemical and biological samples. While much recent work has established sophisticated automation routines using machine learning and related artificial intelligence methods, these efforts have largely focused on downstream processing (e.g., classification tasks) of previously collected data. While fully automated analysis pipelines are desirable, current progress is limited by cumbersome and manually intensive sample preparation and data collection steps. Specifically, a typical lab-scale SERS experiment requires the user to evaluate the quality and reliability of the measurement (i.e., the spectra) as the data are being collected. This need for expert user-intuition is a major bottleneck that limits applicability of SERS-based diagnostics for point-of-care clinical applications, where trained spectroscopists are likely unavailable. While application-agnostic numerical approaches (e.g., signal-to-noise thresholding) are useful, there is an urgent need to develop algorithms that leverage expert user intuition and domain knowledge to simplify and accelerate data collection steps. To address this challenge, in this work, we introduce a machine learning-assisted method at the acquisition stage. We tested six common algorithms to measure best performance in the context of spectral quality judgment. For adoption into future automation platforms, we developed an open-source python package tailored for rapid expert user annotation to train machine learning algorithms. We expect that this new approach to use machine learning to assist in data acquisition can serve as a useful building block for point-of-care SERS diagnostic platforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalApplied Spectroscopy
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • artificial intelligence
  • automation
  • Diagnostics
  • plasmonics
  • SERS
  • surface-enhanced Raman scattering
  • XGBoost

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Spectroscopy


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