Surface-enhanced hyper-Raman scattering (SEHRS), the nonlinear analog of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), provides unique spectral signatures arising from the molecular hyperpolarizability. In this work, we explore the differences between SERS and SEHRS spectra obtained from surface-bound uranyl ion. Exploiting the distinctive SEHRS bands for trace detection of the uranyl ion, we obtain excellent sensitivity (limit of detection = 90 ppb) despite the extreme weakness of the hyper-Raman effect. We observe that binding the uranyl ion to the carboxylate group of 4-mercaptobenzoic acid (4-MBA) leads to significant changes in the SEHRS spectrum, whereas the surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectrum of the same complex is little changed. The SERS and SEHRS spectra are also examined as a function of both substituent position, using 2-MBA, 3-MBA, and 4-MBA, and the carbon chain length, using 4-mercaptophenylacetic acid and 4-mercaptophenylpropionic acid. These results illustrate that the unique features of SEHRS can yield more information than SERS in certain cases and represent the first application of SEHRS for trace analysis of nonresonant molecules.
Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) underpins a wide range of commercial and fundamental applications. SERS often relies on ligands, usually thiols, bound to a noble metal surface. The difficulty of straightforward thiol synthesis combined with their instability on surfaces highlights the need for alternative ligand design. We present the first example of SERS utilizing N-heterocyclic carbene ligands. A general three step synthesis is presented for functionalized NHC-CO2 adducts. These ligands are deposited on SERS-active gold film-over-nanosphere substrates (AuFONs) in solvent-free and base-free conditions, which prevents fouling. The resulting films are found to be robust and capable of postsynthetic modifications.