To address this challenge, a fast, simple, stable and affordable fabrication method of SERS-active substrates is required. A research group at the Industrial Materials Institute, National Research Council (IMI-NRC) of Canada developed a general procedure to design and fabricate SERS active substrates in a more affordable way based on a nanoimprint lithography method. By using this technique as well as numerical near-field simulations, several types of SERS substrates were optimized, fabricated and used to detect the presence of either strong or weak scattering molecules, as well as photo-chemically sensitive molecules. Moreover, these rapidly fabricated nanostructured SERS active substrates can be successfully used to detect either labeled or label-free DNA molecules.

These recent developments are paving the way toward the development of low-cost SERS substrates integrated with plastic-based lab-on-chip systems for large-scale diagnostic devices.