Ag-nanoparticles-decorated NiO-nanoflakes grafted Ni-nanorod arrays stuck out of porous AAO as effective SERS substrates.Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2014 Feb 28; 16(8):3686-92.PC
NiO-nanoflakes (NiO-NFs) grafted Ni-nanorod (Ni-NR) arrays stuck out of the porous anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) template are achieved by a combinatorial process of AAO-confined electrodeposition of Ni-NRs, selectively etching part of the AAO template to expose the Ni-NRs, wet-etching the exposed Ni-NRs in ammonia to obtain Ni(OH)2-NFs grafted onto the cone-shaped Ni-NRs, and annealing to transform Ni(OH)2-NFs in situ into NiO-NFs. By top-view sputtering, Ag-nanoparticles (Ag-NPs) are decorated on each NiO-NFs grafted Ni-NR (denoted as NiO-NFs@Ni-NR). The resultant Ag-NPs-decorated NiO-NFs@Ni-NR (denoted as Ag-NPs@NiO-NFs@Ni-NR) arrays exhibit not only strong surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) activity but also reproducible SERS-signals over the whole array. It is demonstrated that the strong SERS-activity is mainly ascribed to the high density of sub-10 nm gaps (hot spots) between the neighboring Ag-NPs, the semiconducting NiO-NFs induced chemical enhancement effect, and the lightning rod effect of the cone-shaped Ni-NRs. The three-level hierarchical nanostructure arrays stuck out of the AAO template can be utilized to probe polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, a kind of global environmental hazard) with a concentration as low as 5 × 10(-6) M, showing promising potential in SERS-based rapid detection of organic environmental pollutants.