Hydrogel Microdomain Encapsulation of Stable Functionalized Silver Nanoparticles for SERS pH and Urea Sensing. Academic Article uri icon


  • Conceptual and commercial examples of implantable sensors have been limited to a relatively small number of target analytes, with a strong focus on glucose monitoring. Recently, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) pH sensors were demonstrated to track acid-producing enzymatic reactions targeting specific analytes. We show here that SERS pH tracking in the basic regime is also possible, and can be used to monitor urea concentration. To accomplish this, we developed a hydrogel consisting of polyelectrolyte multilayer microcapsules containing a SERS-sensitive pH reporter (4-mercapopyridine capped silver nanoparticles modified with bovine serum albumin). This pH sensing material exhibited a sensitive Raman scattering response to a wide range of pH from 6.5-9.7. By incorporating urease into the hydrogel matrix, the new sensor was capable of distinguishing urea concentrations of 0, 0.1, 1, and 10 mM. We also found that bovine serum albumin (BSA) prevented severe aggregation of the nanoparticle-based pH sensor, which improved sensing range and sensitivity. Furthermore, BSA safeguarded the pH sensor during the encapsulation procedure. Together, the combination of materials represents a novel approach to enabling optical sensing of reactions that generate pH changes in the basic range.

published proceedings

  • Sensors (Basel)

author list (cited authors)

  • Quinn, A., You, Y., & McShane, M. J.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Quinn, Alexander||You, Yil-Hwan||McShane, Michael J

publication date

  • January 2019