Silver nanostructures are used in tip- and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy due to their high electric field enhancement over almost the entire visible spectral range. However, the low chemical stability of silver, compared to other noble metals, promotes silver sulfide and sulfate formation which decreases its plasmonic activity. This is why silver tips are usually prepared on the same day of the experiments or are disregarded in favour of gold that is chemically more stable. Since silver degradation cannot be avoided, we hypothesized that a protection layer may be able to minimize or control degradation. In this contribution, we report the successful preparation of 4-biphenylthiol and 4’-nitro-4-biphenylthiol self-assembled monolayers on silver tips in order to protect them against tarnishing and to investigate the effect on the life-time of the plasmonic activity. The electrochemically etched wire surface was probed via Raman spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The best long term stability and resistance against corrosion was shown by a monolayer of 4-biphenylthiol formed from dimethylformamide which did not display any degradation of the metallic tip during the observed period. Here, we demonstrate an easy and straightforward approach towards increasing the chemical stability of silver TERS-active probes.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.