In recent years, highly sensitive surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) integrated with flexible substrates has drawn increasing attention for label-free detection. In this study, an invisible ink-inspired process was developed for the fabrication of plasmonic Au-based SERS substrates through an on-site redox strategy. Tannic acid (TNA), a common green reagent, was used not only for fabricating various SERS absorbents through a confinement reduction of a Au-TNA complex, but also for supplying an amphiphilic inorganic-organic surface structure for outstanding SERS enhancement at micromolar to nanomolar concentrations for a wide range of compounds. In addition to label-free sensing, this TNA/Au-based SERS substrate provides a versatile analysis platform for studies of chemical and biological reactions. A combination of TNA ink with different metal ions allows for a reliable procedure for the synthesis of a bimetallic AuAg SERS substrate that further enhances the SERS intensity of analyte molecules and extends the lower limit of detection.
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