Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Label-free surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) can interrogate systems by directly fingerprinting their components' unique physicochemical properties. In complex biological systems however, this can yield highly overlapping spectra that hinder sample identification. Here, we present an artificial-nose inspired SERS fingerprinting approach where spectral data is obtained as a function of sensor surface chemical functionality. Supported by molecular dynamics modeling, we show that mildly selective self-assembled monolayers can influence the strength and configuration in which analytes interact with plasmonic surfaces, diversifying the resulting SERS fingerprints. Since each sensor generates a modulated signature, the implicit value of increasing the dimensionality of datasets is shown using cell lysates for all possible combinations of up to 9 fingerprints. Reliable improvements in mean discriminatory accuracy towards 100% are achieved with each additional surface functionality. This arrayed label-free platform illustrates the wide-ranging potential of high-dimensionality artificial-nose based sensing systems for more reliable assessment of complex biological matrices.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Biosensing Techniques, Chemical Phenomena, Electronic Nose, Gold, Metal Nanoparticles, Models, Biological, Molecular Dynamics Simulation, Multivariate Analysis, Spectrum Analysis, Raman