Raman's skeleton key

Unlocking the full potential of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) will only happen when a universal substrate for the technique is developed. Now, an international team led by scientists and engineers at the University at Buffalo, New York, USA, have turned to nanotechnology to simplify SERS and hopefully preclude the need for a different substrate for each type of analysis. "[This] allows us to rapidly identify and measure chemical and biological molecules using a broadband nanostructure that traps a wide range of light," Buffalo's Qiaoqiang Gan explains. The system could be used in explosives and chemical weapons detection, environmental pollution monitoring, medical diagnostics and even in spotting art fraud.